A religious friend of mine shared this with me. Basically a “theologian” friend of hers wrote it showing “support” for Jesus actually being born on December 25th.
Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th?  Dec. 25 was chosen because the 25th of the 12th month (Chislev) is the first day of the Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) in Israel. The earliest written record of Christians believing that is the correct date goes back to the 2nd century.   And no legitimate challenge to the date has ever made sense. Shepherds remain in the fields as far as February in the Holy Land and it almost never gets cold enough to snow in Bethlehem. It’s a desert after all. 5BC (the likely correct year of His birth) is interesting as December 25 falls on the same day as Chislev 25 on the Hebrew calendar if you calculate the Western calendar backward.

The foolish notion that the date is related to the Roman Saturnalia feast is ludicrous because early Christians were mostly Jewish, not pagan. And the Jewish feast is a more obvious antecedent.   It also fits the timeline.
From Josephus we know when Zechariah’s priestly course (Abijah) was on duty in Septemberish of BC 7. 6 months later Mary was visited by Gabriel in March. 9 months later is late December-Early January.  And Herod the Great died in 4 BC.  So…Why dispute ancient authorities when all the documentary evidence from the period points to the authenticity of December 25, 5 BC.”   
Here’s the entire article. 

I do not know the date Jesus was born.   I believe that no one living knows the date Jesus was born.  The Bible does not record the date.  Neither does any other ancient document.  The evidence from the early church is that the date of Christmas was chosen, not because it was the actual date of the birth of Jesus, but to coincide with the Saturnalia, which was a pagan holiday, to which Christmas was a rival Christian holiday.   I cannot rule out that Jesus was born on December 25th.  It is possible, but the evidence from the early church does not support this date.   The data used above (“Septemberish” and the estimate of the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy) are very approximate. The idea of it being a parallel to Hannukuh and the rededication of the temple is interesting.  I actually like the idea (not that Dec. 25th is the actual date, but that the date was chosen, in part, because of proximity to Hannakuh), but given the lack of supporting evidence I am left a bit skeptical of this idea.   The possibility that Dec. 25th was chosen in part to match the timing of Saturnalia and in part to parallel the rededication of the temple is interesting and even a compelling theory, but the idea that this is the actual date of the birth of Jesus is, again, not convincing to me.
This “theologian” failed to mention in his article that the Eastern Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th.  Why not pick this date as opposed to December 25th?
Saying that there is a relationship between the Saturnalia and the timing of the turning of the winter solstice with the date chosen to celebrate the birth if Jesus is not “ludicrous”.  The date January 7th was established in the second half of the second century when the church was mainly Greek culturally.  It was no longer principally a culturally Jewish church when the date was chosen,  The Western/Roman date of Christmas being chosen as Dec. 25th may have come as late as the third century under Roman rather than Greek influence, so the argument that this connection is “ludicrous”is a weak one.
Let me finish my answer by quoting from the article you read: “all the documentary evidence from the period points to the authenticity of December 25, 5 BC.”   Here is my response:  There is literally no documentary evidence at all which supports the authenticity of the Dec. 25 date.  How anyone can say this when there is literally not a single ancient document which supports this date is a mystery to me.  The very early church did not claim that this was the actual date, but chose it as a date to commemorate his birth (ie. not as an actual birthday).  The author does not quote any documents, but only suggests that Jesus may have been born some time in late Fall, with no inference of Dec. 25th.   As far as I have gleaned from scholars, the most likely time for shepherds to be out in fields in the hills is in the Fall or Spring, but this does not narrow down the date very much.
I am copying an pasting below an article on Christmas which I posted a few years ago.
John Oakes

Is Christmas a Christian Holiday?

Christmas sure has taken a beating lately, seemingly from all sides.  The secularists demand that we say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas,  while some believers have threatened to boycott a certain large retail corporation for caving in to political correctness and no longer mentioning Christmas. When my checkout person said “Happy Holidays” to me the other day, I was tempted to retort, “and a Merry Christmas to you too”. Some Christian groups celebrate Christmas as the  highlight of their religious year, while other, more conservative sects, claim  that Christmas is a pagan holiday which should be shunned by all believers. Who is right? What is the correct doctrine of Christmas?

The answer is that there is no “correct” answer to this question. Obviously, Christmas is not mentioned in the Bible, but this fact can be used by either side. Some would argue that since the Bible does not prohibit the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we are free to celebrate it. Others would say that since the celebration of Christmas is not authorized by the Bible, to do so is to add to God’s word, and is therefore not biblical. True, it is not biblical, but then neither are church buildings or Sunday School or ushers or nearly any of the specific things we do when we gather to worship God. Such traditions are harmless unless we let them rise to the level of doctrine (Matthew 15:9). Arguably, some have done exactly that with Christmas. The apostle Paul seems to answer the question  once and for all in Colossians 2:16f in which he declares that no one should  judge anyone else with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath. The judging should not occur in either direction; pro or con.

So, we are free to celebrate the birth of Jesus if we like, but is it a good idea to do so? Let us look for just a moment at the history of this Christian holiday. First of all, there is the issue of the date of the birth of Jesus. The fact is  that we do not know for sure even the general time of the year of Jesus’ birth, never mind the exact day. Scholars have argued for a late Spring or early Fall date based on the fact that the shepherds were out in the fields with the sheep. So much for the debate about the timing. Bottom line, no one knows when Jesus was born. If we are to celebrate the birthday of the Son of God, someone had to choose a date. Why was December 25th chosen by the Western churches and eventually adopted by Rome? (by the way, the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th). The evidence is that in the third century AD or possibly earlier, the leaders of the Christian churches set the date of December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus because this coincided with the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. Saturnalia is named after the Roman god Saturn. This holiday was timed to coincide with the turning of the days at the winter solstice. The birth of a new year was celebrated not just by the Romans, but by most of the ancient cultures as the point when the amount of daylight began to increase. It represented a new beginning: new hope for everyone. Because the Roman holiday Saturnalia was chosen as the time for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, opponents have claimed that it is a pagan holiday. This is a spurious argument. Yes, it is true that the church leaders chose a pagan holiday as the date, but what kinds of holidays were there to co-opt other than pagan ones? Obviously, the early church had absolutely no intention of making this a pagan holiday! Given that they had no idea of the actual date of Jesus’ birth, and given that the Christians already had a holiday scheduled at this, the slowest time of the year, what better date could they have chosen?

So we have a traditional date which is neither better nor worse than any other. One thing we can be sure of is that we are stuck with this date. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it just so happens to come at a time when we really need a celebration of new birth and new hope. What better time to celebrate the birth of Jesus (assuming that the idea is a good one in the first place)? This brings us to the meaning of Christmas. The word is a compound of the words Christ and mass. Christ comes from the Greek for anointed one. The Hebrew equivalent word is Messiah. The word mass in the English evolved from the Anglo-Saxon word maesse,?which derived in turn from the Latin missa, which is a form of the verb mittere, which means “to send.” So, the meaning of the word Christmas is the sending of the messiah. If we celebrate Christmas according to the original intent of the Christian church, we are celebrating the coming of the messiah. If we can put aside the crass commercialization and all the associated “stuff” which comes with the Western celebration of Christmas, the heart of the holiday seems like a pretty good idea, at least to this observer.

What, then, about all the “stuff” that comes with Christmas? What about the trees, the wreaths, the ornaments, the Yule logs and the holly, the mistletoe, Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman? Some of these have an interesting history. Yes, it is true that many if not most of these traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations. What else is new? What else would we expect? The custom of bringing branches from evergreen trees into the home during the dark days of winter predates Christianity and was a reminder that the sun would return, the snow would melt, and the vegetation cycle would begin again. Some argue against Christmas trees using Jeremiah 10:2-4; “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by the signs in the sky” For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold;they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.? I certainly am not here to defend the religious significance of the Christmas tree. The best I can tell there is none! However, unless we are actually worshipping it as an idol, we are not guilty of violating the command in Jeremiah 10:2-4.

What about Santa Claus, otherwise known as Saint Nick? Many ancient cultures had a myth of a magical figure who came once a year to spread around gifts for the poor and the children. The Christian church adapted this idea quite early to serve its purposes. The story of ?Saint? Nicholas is interesting. Nicholas was a bishop in Asia(present-day Turkey). He was born in the mid to late third century, coming from a wealthy family. Traditions differ, some saying he gave up his social position, others saying he was orphaned. Either way, he dedicated himself to preaching, teaching, and spread of the Gospel. He defended the Christian faith against the heresy of Arias of Alexandria, and eventually was martyred for his faith. Nicholas was known throughout the churches for his sacrifice and charity for the sake of others. As the early church began to make Saints (with a capital S) out of well-known saints, they began to celebrate a day devoted to Nicholas. Because of his charitable spirit, and because his day fell in December, he began to be associated with gift-giving on Christmas. Santa Claus comes from the Dutch Sinter Klaas, which comes from Saint Nicholas. The jolly fat man dressed in red is an invention of nineteenth century British writers, but that is another story.

What is the “Christian” response to all this stuff? Despite the fact that most of the traditions which have grown up around the celebration of Christmas have their roots in pagan traditions, there is nothing inherently sinful in putting up a wreath or stringing lights or hanging ornaments. Nothing wrong, that is unless we are also worshipping the pagan deities with which these were once associated. The Santa Claus thing is more troubling from a religious point of view, but I would prefer to leave Santa alone. The blatant materialism, commercialization and outright greed which is associated with the holiday is another thing altogether. How are Christian families to emphasize the celebration of the coming of Jesus without caving in to the selfishness associated with the holiday? Perhaps those who say the whole thing is from Satan (after all Santa is Satan respelled) and that Christmas is sinful have a point. Perhaps, given the fact that celebrating the birth of Jesus is not biblical, the holiday does more harm than good.

For me, I am not prepared to take that step. I still find Joy to the World to be one of the most inspiring of Christian songs. Yes, Christmas can do more harm than good, but if the followers of Christ will make the effort to bring Christ back into Christmas, to emphasize giving rather than receiving, to celebrating the coming of the savior into the world, then maybe we can still save Christmas. The proper response of the Christian is a matter of opinion, but to accept the status quo without response is not a wise path. So let us celebrate the season, and let us “Remember Jesus Christ, descended from David.” (2 Timothy 2:8.

Merry Christmas,

John Oakes

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