Report on Interest

FACT CHECK: Was Jesus really born on December 25? From all indications, he wasn’t even born in December- Lanre Olagunju

The birth of Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, globally celebrated on the 25th of every December has no scriptural basis neither does it have a clear historical or calendrical explanation that is out-rightly convincing.  In fact, history teaches he was not born in December.

History unfolds that the 25th of December was already a popular date in pagan celebration as the birthday of the Sun. 

So how do we know when Jesus was born?

The Bible does not state expressly when Jesus was born, but with a few signs, we can hazard a scientific answer, which gives us a more accurate date than December 25. According to Luke 1:24-36, we see clearly that John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, was conceived six months before Mary the mother of Christ became pregnant by the Holy Ghost. 

If we are able to ascertain when John the Baptist was born, figuring the birth of Jesus should be less of an ordeal. 

Going by details shared in the Bible in Luke1:5, Zachariah, the father of John, was a serving priest in the time of Herod, King of Judea. “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.”

According to The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, P.200, the course of service aligns with June 13-19 in that year. It is also very instructive to note that it was during Zachariah temple service that he learnt that Elizabeth, his wife would have a child. 

Upon the completion of his service, he travelled home and Elizabeth conceived. We cannot tell how long it took Zachariah to get home after the service. 

The Book of Luke 1:23-24, says “And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months.”

If Zachariah returned home at the end of June to be with his wife, Elizabeth, it might be safe to conclude that John’s conception took place near the end of June, which then implies that he was born at the end of March the following year.

Adding the difference in the conception of John the Baptist and when the angel appeared to Mary, Jesus must have been born towards the end of September.

It will remain a demanding task for historians to figure out Jesus’ exact date of birth, but there are several indications to buttress that Christ wasn’t born on the 25th of December like we have all been made to believe.

At the time of Jesus’ birth according to Luke 2: 7-8, shepherds were watching their flocks. But the month of December doesn’t depict when Shepherds stay all night in the field, the month of December is wet and cold in Judea, therefore, rather than stay awake to watch their flocks, Shepherds would have secured shelter for their flocks.

In line with the weather condition, the reports according to the book of Luke has it that Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census, but historians are of the strong opinion that census couldn’t have taken place in winter due to the drop in temperature which sometimes might be below freezing points. That such an attempt will be futile. 

The bottom line is that no one knows for sure why December 25th is celebrated as the Birth of Jesus, and till date, no Christian journal has succeeded in providing useful clarifications.

But there seems to be a great connection between the celebration of solstice and Jesus’ birth. Therefore, could it be that the birth of Christ was intentionally used to replace the popular pagan celebration of the Sun? Could it also be a sign that the Almighty God chose Christ over all other idols?

Lanre Olagunju is a Lagos based Fact Checker. He is @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter.

 

2 Comments
  1. Adeola Peters says

    Hmmmm I think I read it somewhere about him being born September but it wasn’t broken down this way.

  2. Enitan says

    This is So insightful, never thought of it in this light before. Thank you

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