by Fr. Kevin Joshua B. Cosme
The usual explanation for the date of Christmas is that it was instituted by Christians to counter the pagan Roman festivals dedicated to either the gods Saturn, Mithras, or Sol Invictus, which were celebrated around the third week of December. But based on more recent scholarship, this view is no longer sustainable.
“Birth of Jesus Christ” by David Lindsley
Instead, rather than paganism, Christmas is more likely linked with the passion of Christ. There was an early Christian belief that the Passover date on which Jesus died–the 14th of Nissan according to the Hebrew calendar–was March 25. It seems that Christians also shared the Jewish tradition of regarding certain dates as significant where certain events in the history of salvation were concerned.
Thus, there arose a view that the day Christ died fell on the same day of his conception, a few decades back. St. Augustine confirms the existence of this tradition at the end of the 4th century. So if Jesus was conceived on March 25, he must have been born nine months later, which is, you guessed it, December 25.
But was Jesus really born on December 25? The short answer is: we don’t really know since we’re working with estimates. But more than the exact date of his birthday, what’s important is that He was born at all! In Jesus, God became a human being like you and me. He knows what it’s like. He knows what you’re going through. He is Emmanuel, God-with-us. And He has come to save us.
God has given us the greatest gift ever–His only begotten Son. On his birthday, what is your gift to Jesus?
Flex our Faith Episode 12: Christmas | Aired on December 25, 2021