Is December 25th the birthday of our Lord? Of course, many are aware that the current calendar we use did not exist when Jesus was born. In fact, our calendar is not the only calendar in use today. The Jewish people use a different calendar. So do the Chinese, the Greek Orthodox, and many other cultures and tribes. So why Dec. 25th for the birth of our Lord?
Well, for one, our Saviour was born into the world on some specific day, so choosing one particular day to celebrate it is in order. The Bible mentions the recognition of birthdays of other kings, so it is not incomprehensible that Christians in the early churches would have in some way marked and celebrated the birth of our Saviour.
There is precedent for the season being December from several sources. For one, the most significant rains in Israel occur in December-February. The tender grasses sprout on all the hills in late December. On the Bethlehem hills shepherds would typically be out on those hills with their sheep as the ewes were carrying lambs.
Another factor suggests the possibility of a late December date, and it has to do with the timing of the courses of the Levitical priests who served in the Temple. The nativity accounts in Scripture mention the course of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. Scholars have used Biblical references to the priestly courses in the Hebrew calendar to determine that the course of Zacharias would have been in the right time frame to fit with the birth of John the Baptist six months pervious to a December birth for the Lord.
The giving of gifts in connection with special days also has a Biblical precedent. When the Jews were spared from the destruction ordered upon by the edict of Haman, they set aside two-days of remembrance and celebration. On those days they called for feasting and joy, sent gifts one to another and to the poor. (Esther 9:21-22)
Whether or not Jesus was born into this world on our December 25th or not, is much less important than the fact that He was born! I’m glad we have a season to proclaim it and celebrate it with Christmas carols and with feasting and joy and gift-giving and all that makes this the season of “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!”