The TRUE Origin of Christmas

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What is the true origin of celebrating Christmas on December 25th? Does the Bible tells us when Jesus was born? Before we begin our short study, here are some facts related to the holiday, which is arguably the most popular religious celebration in the enitre world.

For some retailers, the Christmas season can represent 25 to 40% of their annual sales. While at work, close to 76 million people in the United States will shop on the Internet for holiday gifts. John Horsley designed the first commercially produced Xmas card in 1843 A.D. for entrepreneur Henry Cole. Only a dozen of the one thousand cards lithographed still exist.

One of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year is called in the United States 'black Friday.' It falls every year on the Friday that follows the national holiday called Thanksgiving day. The name derives from the use of black ink accountants used to record a profit in a company's financial books.

How many Christmas trees are sold each year? 35.2 million real and fake trees were purchased in the U.S. in 2010. The total retail value of the trees was more than $1.5+ billion dollars. The State of Michigan in the United States is the third largest harvester of holiday trees in the country. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the state is the Bronner's Wonderland store in Frankenmuth. This commercial enterprise contains more than 50,000 holiday items and attracts 2 million visitors each year.

In America, Cyber Monday (the Monday that follows Thanksgiving day) is now the biggest online Xmas shopping day, generating 1.7 BILLION dollars in sales from desktop computers in 2013. This is half a billion more in online sales than what was spent on Black Friday.

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The origin of December 25

Early New Testament believers annually remembered the death of Jesus by celebrating the Passover. However, the scriptures are silent concerning any annual event or tradition like Christmas set aside to commemorate the birth of the Savior. Issues involving Jesus' birth date do not appear in known church records until after the 4th century.

The adoption of December 25 to celebrate the birth of Christ is the most pronounced example of the influence of pagan Sun-worship on Christianity's religious calendar. The feast that celebrated the Invincible Sun's birthday was carried out on December 25. Even after the church transformed and "Christianized" the pagan day from celebrating the SUN to worshipping the SON, it STILL had problems with those practicing what Christmas originally meant! Gaston H. Halsberghe in his dissertation on Sun worship states the following.

"The authors whom we consulted on this point are unanimous in admitting the influence of the pagan celebration held in honor of Deus Sol Invictus on the 25th of December . . . to be responsible for the shifting to the 25th of December of the birth of Christ, which had until then been held on the day of the Epiphany (January 6)" (page 174) 

Why would the church of Rome feel the need to adopt the SAME DAY used to celebrate the birth of the Sun to celebrate Christmas? Catholic liturgist Mario Righetti wrote the following.

". . . to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the temporal birth of Christ . . . celebrated on the same day in honor of the "Invincible Sun" Mithras" (Manuale di Storia Liturgica, 1955, II, page 67.)

The adoption of a late December date to honor Jesus through Christmas was encouraged by the non-Christian annual feast that rejoiced over the returning sun after the solstice. This time period has absolutely no meaning attached to it in the Bible.


Christmas in 1903
Christmas
Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (1903)

The TRUE time of Jesus' birth

One of the reasons Jesus' birth could NOT have occurred in winter, as people who keep Christmas take for granted, is that shepherds in Israel did not watch their flocks at night from about November to February due to the weather. During this period, they protected their flocks in a "sheepfold." Shepherds would not have been in Bethlehem's fields to hear the announcement of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:8-12) if he was born in the cold of winter.  

Jesus' public ministry began when he was about thirty (Luke 3:23) and ministry lasted for a period of 3 1/2 years (42 months) until His crucifixion on Passover in early April 30 A.D. (see our detailed timeline of Jesus' last week). If we backtrack 6 months from the time of Christ's death, we arrive at an early October / late September period for his birth, NOT a December date!

Another reason why Jesus' birth could NOT have occurred anywhere near today's date for Christmas involves, oddly enough, taxes. Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, and not in Nazareth where they lived, at the time of the Messiah's birth due to Roman taxation policies (Luke 2:1 - 4). The Romans decreed in the year Christ was born that a census would be taken to find out who lived in the land and what they owned. When did this census take place? An appendix in one Bible translation gives us the answer.  

"The taxation and census decree by Caesar Augustus was carried out according to the Jewish custom which required that such taxes be collected after the fall harvest. Thus, Luke’s record of this taxation reveals that the birth of Jesus took place during the AUTUMN" (Holy Bible a Faithful Version, Appendix E)

When it came to taxes, Rome knew what it was doing. It commanded a taxation census be taken when the people of the land had the free time (right after the big fall harvest), the money (from the harvest) and weather to permit them to travel.

In conclusion, the day on which Christmas is celebrated has its origin based solely on non-biblical sources. It's foundation is based on the tradition of men and not the truth of God. As such, anyone who considers himself or herself a true Christian and who keeps the holiday needs to take a serious look at continuing such a practice.

Additional Study Materials
How many wise men visited Jesus after his birth?
Why is Christmas also called XMAS?
Can Christians celebrate HANUKKAH?
What is the TRUE origin of Easter?
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