General Question

klutzaroo's avatar

Why are people convinced that Jesus was really born on the 25th of December?

Asked by klutzaroo (4716points) December 25th, 2010

Is it just ignorance of their own records and traditions? Is insisting that JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON willful ignorance of the true origin of celebrations on and around this date? Why is it that people are so unaware that things they attribute to Christianity have nothing to do with it?

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45 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People are unaware of a lot and convinced of many untrue things – it doesn’t take much but it’s important that they cling on to something. Some people are more gullible than others and this extends beyond fact-checking dubious dates of Christian yore.

gondwanalon's avatar

The strange truth about human nature is that we seem to be willing and eager to believe what we are told to believe by those in authority.

JLeslie's avatar

They aren’t. I think pretty much everyone agrees we don’t know the exact day of Jesus’ birth. Don’t they?

klutzaroo's avatar

@JLeslie You’ve never been to Georgia, have ya?

JLeslie's avatar

@klutzaroo Hahaha. Well, I do live in the midsouth currently. Maybe they do think it really is his brithday here in Memphis, TN? I always perceived it as the day they celebrate the birth of Jesus, slight difference. And, of course the whole Pagan, Yule thing to explain the date, and I include that the miracle of Chanukah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar, but I have never heard any of anyone say the Jewish holiday had any relation to the birth of Jeses, but I do find the date coincidence interesting. Anyway, many Christans are unaware of Yuke explaining the 12 days of Christmas leading to the Epiphany, but I thought they new we do not know the date of Jesus’ birth for sure.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Oh for God’s sake. It’s just a day we’ve chosen on which to celebrate the birth of Jesus, called the Christ. Don’t let things like this ruin your season.

filmfann's avatar

I was taught that the day of Christ’s birth was Sept. 29th, and that we celebrate his birth on the 25th of Dec.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CaptainHarley Why would any of this ruin your season? Your faith is strong, right? So, you know the truth, stick to it.

JLeslie's avatar

Although, come to think of it the other day on facebook someone did write on a thread about Chrismas, “America is a Christian country…Jesus is the reason for our calendar, yes and I mean the US calendar.” Idiot.

CaptainHarley's avatar


It won’t. This is apparently the equivalent of “straining at a nat and swollowing a camel.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CaptainHarley Don’t know what that means.

Facade's avatar

People often just believe what they’re told without considering anything else. Many people were told at a young age that Jesus was born on December 25th; some of them did not bother to challenge that.

ETpro's avatar

I’d say it takes biblical ignorance as well as ignorance of known information about how the date crept into Christian lore to believe that Jesus was born on December 25th. Luke 2:8–11 says
8—And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9—And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10—And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11—For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Anyone who knows the climate around Bethlehem would realize shepherds would not be in the fields by night in the winter. The early church adopted the Winter Solstice celebrations of many of the pagan cultures they wished to recruit in order to make Christianity more palatable to thhe new members.

klutzaroo's avatar

@ETpro Yeah, who wants to miss a party just because you converted?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m kind of with @CaptainHarley that it does not matter much, why over analyze it in terms of the celebration? The bigger sticking points are is He the son of God, and does God exist? I am not saying it isn’t interesting to understand the history, just saying in terms of celebration and belief it does ont really affect anything.

talljasperman's avatar

I thought that Jesus might have been born Jan.6 th… but I watched another show that said that the people didn’t keep exact calendar dates during the winter… But I am sure that Jesus died three days before Easter.

El_Cadejo's avatar

For all the christians that say it doesnt matter, I ask why not celebrate his birthday on well his birthday or at least in the same month range. Why take another holiday?

DominicX's avatar

I don’t know anyone who actually believes that Jesus was really born on the exact date December 25, but it doesn’t matter. December 25th is the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, whether or not he was actually born on the day. Obviously the fact that it’s a symbolic birthday for him causes people to think it actually is his real birthday. :\ If you were to celebrate your birthday on a day other than the actual date, people would probably start to think that day was your actual birthday.


For the record, I don’t really consider myself much of a Christian, but I still believe it doesn’t matter. We don’t know the actual date (many would say we don’t even know if Jesus existed), it’s been celebrated on this day for a while, no need to change it.

JLeslie's avatar

@talljasperman Some sects of Christianity do, or did celebrate the 6th as his birth. My husband growing up celebrated the 25th, well really Christmas Eve was the day they really celebrated, and the 6th of January was a huge gift giving day.

klutzaroo's avatar

@talljasperman In (some) Catholic tradition the 6th is known as “Three Kings Day,” supposedly when the 3 kings finally showed up with their gifts. Some people give gifts from the kings on that day, after the 12th day of Christmas. There’s a lot having to do with the 6th in various religious tradition.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@DominicX ive heard quite a bit of evidence suggesting he was born in summer months. pretty fuckin far from december if ya ask me. Just seems like a douchy thing to not only take over the pagans but convert their holiday into yours for the sake of conversions.

JLeslie's avatar

@klutzaroo Right, Tres Reyes. My husband is Mexican.

JLeslie's avatar

What time was Jesus born, for those who believe it was the 25th? Why do they start the holiday the night before? Mary went into labor at night? They were Jewish and all holidays start the night before? The story of the north star?

zenvelo's avatar

The thing is no one knows for sure when Jesus was born. The census by Augustus and Herod’s reign indicate Jesus was born in what is now known as 4 BC. (My brother learned that at a Catholic High School). Many guess he was born in the spring. But spring is Easter (we know that because of the link to Passover). And Christmas wasn’t celebrated until the 4th/5th century. So why not celebrate it when we need something to enjoy in the middle of winter?

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I once saw at the Planetarium that a few years BCE, might have been 4, I cannot remember exactly, more than the north star would have been bright in that part of the sky, and might give scientific support to following a very bright star to Bethlehem in the description of the story, but was actually a planet or something. It’s so long ago, I don’t remember the detail.

cookieman's avatar

A few people in my family believe Jesus was literally born on Dec. 25th because, “That’s what the bible says”. When asked where in the bible they’ve said, “Well that’s what they taught us in church”.

When I pointed out arguments to the contrary, I was told it’s “just terrible that I don’t believe”.

Beliefs do not involve logic. Life is so much easier when you don’t have to think for yourself and blame/attribute so many things to “god” or “Jesus” or simply misquote the all-knowing bible. So really, what’s a misplaced birthday in the face of such blind stupidity.

Odysseus's avatar

Why are you so bothered about what others want to believe? live & let live.

If a child can find innocent enjoyment and happiness by believing in the Tooth-Fairy are you the kinda person that would take enjoyment in bursting their bubble saying,,,
” Hey Kid, actually historical & scientific fact has it that Ms tooth fairy is a LIE ! and Give me that ice cream back too!, life sucks! , I’m miserable and I’m gonna make sure you are too ! Brat ! ”
Or is it that you are so insecure and it makes you feel really clever knowing some facts that you cant resist ‘Lording’ it over others who find love & happiness in their perceived version of history ?

Nullo's avatar

I’ve never met anybody who thought that we had Jesus’ birthday nailed down. Since we don’t know, exactly, any date will do. Since we are not told, we may safely surmise that the time of year is trivial.
What bothers me is the insistence on the three kings undisclosed number of Magi appearing in every Nativity scene. Sure, it’s good for the aesthetics – they contrast nicely with the shepherds, but it’s inaccurate.

Actually, beliefs rely on logic as much as anything else; we are a rational species, after all. Every single religion, every one, has a logical structure to it. Many are even internally consistent. You might recall that religion and philosophy (a discipline built around logic) are good neighbors.
The problem here is that some people are happy to accept somebody else’s conclusion without doing the legwork themselves, or even checking the notes. Then, when you call ‘em on it, they try to BS to cover their ignorance. It’s like when the prof says that you can’t use a calculator because he wants to see your work.

lillycoyote's avatar

All the Christians that I know or have met, understand that the the exact date of Jesus’ birth is not known. You really need to “get out more” if you think that the majority of Christians, or if you only encounter Christians, who think that Jesus was actually born on December 25th.

Nullo's avatar

@klutzaroo Incidentally, the Season for which Jesus is the Reason is not one of the four three-month blocks, but rather refers to a vague melding of time and general sentiment and intent. Sort of like hunting seasons, with less of an emphasis on shooting.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Odysseus Or is it that people try and shove their incorrect beliefs down my throat at every turn? Try that one on for size.

@lillycoyote I get out plenty. Which leads to my observations based on things I actually hear from other people, not an assumption that people know better.

@Nullo And yet “the season” and its celebrations and emphases existed long before it was hijacked.

JLeslie's avatar

@Odysseus Only matters to me if what they believe is affecting their vote, and trying to control how others believe and live. Believing Christ was born on the 25th is not going to bother me one way or the other. I think it makes no difference at all. But, people who don’t even want to hear such a thing (I think @cprevite had the best answer, about the uber religious jumping to him not believing in God and Christ as the reason he might want to debunk the idea of Jesus’ birthdate) is a signal that those Christians don’t want to listen to or even hear anything that might interfere with how they believe. Even if it is in the bible. They do not want possible historical facts, and only cherry pick their bible verses. Believing Jesus was born in the summer does not mean he did not exist, or did not have good things to say, but many evangelicals believe if one little thing they have cemented in their brain about their religion and God is untrue, then the whole thing must be bogus. All or none. They can’t handle it. It’s the mindset that is troubling. As I said above I believe most Christians do know and accept Jesus likely was not born on the 25th of December, so I am not generalizing about all Christians, just the select few that are not open to discussion.

bkcunningham's avatar

Just something to think about. Why Bethlehem in the first place? As some have pointed out, if you’ve ever traveled there or read about the place, why would the Christ be born there? Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”

In Old Testament prophesy, it was said the Messiah, “the Bread sent down from heaven to feed the souls of mankind,” would be a descendent of King David. David, the shepherd King was also born in Bethlehem.

The sheep in the fields of Bethlehem were kept as sacrificial lambs for the Temple in Jerusalem. Born and raised for that purpose. The firstborn male lamb from the flocks around the area was considered holy. Can you see the shadowing of Christ throughout?

If you are interested, read what is known about the first census, the death of Herod, Caesar Augusta and the famous decree that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, Quirinius and Syria et al.

laureth's avatar

@Nullo – you may be interested in this article re: shepherds, magi et al.

Trillian's avatar

I know no Christians who cling to any such belief. I see plenty of people, however, who look for things to be “offended by and can’t have a day go by without trying to find ways to feel superior to others, even if it is only imaginary.
It is my undrstanding that the celebration of the birth of Christ is the “reason for the season” as opposed to the mindless commercialism and going into debt for unappreciated gifts. It has nothing to do with any adherence to an arbitrary date which would be difficult to change at this point, and pointless as well. It is now a Federal holiday and people want their free days off.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Trillian Just because things exist outside of the realm of personal experiences doesn’t meant that they do not exist. In this instance, I know plenty of people who insist that the 25th of December is the exact date of birth of Jesus. The fact that they’re often also trying to shove their beliefs down the throats of other people, delivering lectures on Jesus to poor victims they encounter just trying to do their jobs and unable to be rude to them because they’re customers and so on is far more of a “can’t have a day go by without trying to find ways to feel superior to others, even if it is only imaginary” thing than using knowledge and logic to see where their diatribes are flawed.

It is the understanding of many who bother to do their historical research that Earth’s axial tilt (and its accompanying solar antics) is the reason for the season.

YoBob's avatar

Firstly, there is quite a difference between celebration of an event and the actual historical date upon which the event occurred. The fact is, nobody knows the exact day on which Jesus was born, but there are some scriptural clues Here is an interesting read describing those clues and putting it in the context of the method the temple priests used to mark time.

Now, as for why we celebrate in December, it is for the simple reason that Constantine was a smart cookie. Instead of ordering the people to celebrate a new Christian holiday, he simply put the celebration during a time when the folks across his empire were already celebrating, during the winter solstice. This is the reason for much of the tradition that goes along with the holiday. The Yule log, Christmas Tree, etc. stem from much older traditions that pre-date Christianity.

Iquitoz's avatar

I agree with @ETpro. Christianity was competing with pagan beliefs and chose this date as a defensive move. The date of celebration should be moved to a more weather neutral time of year and away from the present heavy (U.S.) holiday season. Why have the heavy duty holidays within five or six weeks of each other during the worst weather. Since the actual birth date of Jesus is unknown, Christmas could be celebrated during the good weather seasons around the world. Besides aiding travelers, it would give Santa and the elves more time to get toys made and delivered. If you really like Christmas, you can celebrate the occasion several times a year in exotic locations around the world. Just a thought.

ETpro's avatar

@Iquitoz The problem with a summer Santa is how the fat old guy would look in a speedo.

CoolBunch's avatar

Cause they suck. Happy New Year!

ETpro's avatar

@CoolBunch Happy New Year to you too, and welcome to Fluther.

Summum's avatar

It doesn’t matter at all when we celebrate it. Christmas is becoming less and less a celebration of Christ anyway. Christ was born on April 6th.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro Yeah, the countries in the southern hemisphere, Santa is still all bundled up? I guess since he lives at the north pole, the story still works.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Man, if I got used to the North Pole, by the time I hit 130 degrees along the equator you can bet I’d be down to a Speedo or less.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro Maybe Santa is in a tshirt down there? And, his Jacket is just for when he is up north. We need to ask one of our Australian Fluther members. My husband is from Mexico, but they are cold enough in Mexico City that it would not be odd to have a warm outfit on,

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