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Why Is Christmas Day Is Celebrated On The 25th Of December? - Religion - Nairaland

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Why Is Christmas Day Is Celebrated On The 25th Of December? by orimogunje53: 5:36am On Dec 25, 2017
Why Is Christmas Day On The 25th December?

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday
and a worldwide cultural and commercial
phenomenon. For two millennia, people
around the world have been observing it with
traditions and practices that are both
religious and secular in nature. Christians
celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary
of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual
leader whose teachings form the basis of
their religion. Popular customs include
exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees,
attending church, sharing meals with family
and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa
Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas
Day–has been a federal holiday in the United
States since 1870.

Christmas is celebrated to remember the
birth of of Jesus Christ , who Christians
believe is the Son of God.


The name 'Christmas' comes from the Mass
of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which
is sometimes called Communion or
Eucharist) is where Christians remember
that Jesus died for us and then came back
to life. The 'Christ-Mass' service was the
only one that was allowed to take place
after sunset (and before sunrise the next
day), so people had it at Midnight! So we
get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to

...........**.............. . ......

Christmas is now celebrated by people
around the world , whether they are
Christians or not. It's a time when family
and friends come together and remember
the good things they have. People, and
especially children, also like Christmas as
it's a time when you give and receive


The Date of Christmas No one knows the real birthday of Jesus!

No date is given in the Bible, so why do we
celebrate it on the 25th December? The
early Christians certainly had many
arguments as to when it should be
celebrated! Also, the birth of Jesus probably
didn't happen in the year 1 but slightly
earlier, somewhere between 2 BCE/BC and 7
BCE/BC, possibly in 4 BCE/BC (there isn't a
0 - the years go from 1 BC/BCE to 1!).
The first recorded date of Christmas being
celebrated on December 25th was in 336,
during the time of the Roman Emperor
Constantine (he was the first Christian
Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope
Julius I officially declared that the birth of
Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th


A very early Christian tradition said that the
day when Mary was told that she would have
a very special baby , Jesus (called the
Annunciation) was on March 25th - and it's
still celebrated today on the 25th March.
Nine months after the 25th March is the
25th December! March 25th was also the
day some early Christians thought the world
had been made, and also the day that Jesus
died on when he was an adult. The date of
March 25th was chosen because people had
calculated that was the day on which Jesus
died as an adult (the 14th of Nisan in the
Jewish calendar) and they thought that
Jesus was born and had died on the same
day of the year.

Some people also think that December 25th
might have also been chosen because the
Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan
Roman midwinter festivals called 'Saturnalia'
and 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti' took place in
December around this date - so it was a time
when people already celebrated things.


The Winter Solstice is the day where there is
the shortest time between the sun rising and
the sun setting. It happens on December
21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the
winter was over and spring was coming and
they had a festival to celebrate it and
worshipped the sun for winning over the
darkness of winter. In Scandinavia, and
some other parts of northern Europe, the
Winter Solstice is known as Yule and is
where we get Yule Logs from. In Eastern
Europe the mid-winter festival is called

The Roman Festival of Saturnalia took place
between December 17th and 23rd and
honoured the Roman god Saturn. Dies
Natalis Solis Invicti means 'birthday of the
unconquered sun' and was held on
December 25th (when the Romans thought
the Winter Solstice took place) and was the
'birthday' of the Pagan Sun god Mithra. In
the pagan religion of Mithraism, the holy day
was Sunday and is where get that word

The Roman emperor Aurelian created 'Sol
Invictus' in 274. But there are records of
early Christians connecting 14th Nisan to
25th March and so the 25th December go
back to around 200!
The Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah
starts on the 25th of Kislev (the month in
the Jewish calendar that occurs at about
the same time as December). Hanukkah
celebrates when the Jewish people were
able to re-dedicate and worship in their
Temple, in Jerusalem, again following many
years of not being allowed to practice their

Jesus was a Jew, so this could be another
reason that helped the early Church choose
December the 25th for the date of

Christmas had also been celebrated by the
early Church on January 6th, when they also
celebrated the Epiphany (which means the
revelation that Jesus was God's son) and
the Baptism of Jesus. Now Epiphany mainly
celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to the
baby Jesus , but back then it celebrated both
things! Jesus's Baptism was originally seen
as more important than his birth, as this was
when he started his ministry. But soon
people wanted a separate day to celebrate
his birth.

Most of the world uses the 'Gregorian
Calendar' implemented by Pope Gregory XIII
in 1582. Before that the 'Roman' or Julian
Calendar was used (named after Julius
Caesar). The Gregorian calendar is more
accurate that the Roman calendar which had
too many days in a year! When the switch
was made 10 days were lost, so that the day
that followed the 4th October 1582 was 15th
October 1582. In the UK the change of
calendars was made in 1752. The day after
2nd September 1752 was 14th September

Many Orthodox and Coptic Churches still use
the Julian Calendar and so celebrate
Christmas on the 7th January (which is
when December 25th would have been on
the Julian calendar). And the Armenian
Apostolic Church celebrates it on the 6th
January! In some part of the UK, January
6th is still called 'Old Christmas' as this
would have been the day that Christmas
would have celebrated on, if the calendar
hadn't been changed. Some people didn't
want to use the new calendar as they
thought it 'cheated' them out of 11 days!


Christians believe that Jesus is the light of
the world, so the early Christians thought
that this was the right time to celebrate the
birth of Jesus. They also took over some of
the customs from the Winter Solstice and
gave them Christian meanings, like Holly ,
Mistletoe and even Christmas Carols !
St Augustine was the person who really
started Christmas in the UK by introducing
Christianity in the 6th century. He came
from countries that used the Roman
Calendar, so western countries celebrate
Christmas on the 25th December. Then
people from Britain and Western Europe took
Christmas on the 25th December all over the
If you'd like to know more about the history
behind the dating of Christmas, then read
this very good article on Bible History Daily
(goes to another site).

__So when was Jesus Born?__

There's a strong and practical reason why
Jesus might not have been born in the
winter, but in the spring or the autumn! It
can get very cold in the winter and it's
unlikely that the shepherds would have been
keeping sheep out on the hills (as those hills
can get quite a lot of snow sometimes!).

During the spring (in March or April) there's
a Jewish festival called 'Passover'. This
festival remembers when the Jews had
escaped from slavery in Egypt about 1500
years before Jesus was born. Lots of lambs
would have been needed during the
Passover Festival, to be sacrificed in the
Temple in Jerusalem. Jews from all over the
Roman Empire traveled to Jerusalem for the
Passover Festival, so it would have been a
good time for the Romans to take a census.
Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the
census (Bethlehem is about six miles from

In the autumn (in September or October)
there's the Jewish festival of 'Sukkot' or
'The Feast of Tabernacles'. It's the festival
that's mentioned the most times in the
Bible! It is when Jewish people remember
that they depended on God for all they had
after they had escaped from Egypt and
spent 40 years in the desert. It also
celebrates the end of the harvest. During
the festival, Jews live outside in temporary
shelters (the word 'tabernacle' come from a
latin word meaning 'booth' or 'hut').

Many people who have studied the Bible,
think that Sukkot would be a likely time for
the birth of Jesus as it might fit with the
description of there being 'no room in the
inn'. It also would have been a good time to
take the Roman Census as many Jews went
to Jerusalem for the festival and they would
have brought their own tents/shelters with
them! (It wouldn't have been practical for
Joseph and Mary to carry their own shelter
as Mary was pregnant.)

.......... *.......... *

The possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem
seems to point either spring or autumn.
The possible dating of Jesus birth can also
be taken from when Zechariah (who was
married to Mary's cousin Elizabeth) was on
duty in the Jewish Temple as a Priest and
had an amazing experience. There is an
excellent article on the dating of Christmas
based on the dates of Zechariah's
experience, on the blog of theologian, Ian
Paul. With those dates, you get Jesus being
born in September - which also fits with
The year that Jesus was born isn't known.
The calendar system we have now was
created in the 6th Century by a monk called
Dionysius Exiguus. He was actually trying to
create a better system for working out when
Easter should be celebrated, based on a new
calendar with the birth of Jesus being in the
year 1. However, he made a mistake in his
maths and so got the possible year of
Jesus's birth wrong!

.......... *.......... *

Most scholars now think that Jesus was
born between 2 BCE/BC and 7 BCE/BC,
possibly in 4 BCE/BC. Before Dionysius's
new calendars, years were normally dated
from the reigns of Roman Emperors. The
new calendar became more widely used
from the 8th Century when the 'Venerable
Bede of Northumbria' used it in his 'new'
history book! There is no year '0'. Bede
started dating things before the year 1 and
used 1 BCE/BC as the first year before 1. At
that time in Europe, the number 0 didn't
exist in maths - it only arrived in Europe in
the 11th to 13th centuries!

.......... *.......... *

So whenever you celebrate Christmas,
remember that you're celebrating a real
event that happened about 2000 years ago,
that God sent his Son into the world as a
Christmas present for everyone!
As well as Christmas and the solstice, there
are some other festivals that are held in late
December. Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews;
and the festival of Kwanzaa is celebrated by
some Africans and African Americans takes
place from December 26th to January 1st.
Re: Why Is Christmas Day Is Celebrated On The 25th Of December? by Trustme2(m): 6:10am On Dec 25, 2017
This is quite detailed. Merry Christmas. See you on the other side
Re: Why Is Christmas Day Is Celebrated On The 25th Of December? by Meti99(m): 6:16am On Dec 25, 2017
Re: Why Is Christmas Day Is Celebrated On The 25th Of December? by orimogunje53: 7:48am On Dec 25, 2017
merry xmas

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