When was Jesus born? Christ’s birth month, origins of Christmas and why 25 December is actually celebrated
Christmas Day traditions include exchanging presents and spending time with loved ones
Christmas Day holds such a special significance for millions around the world. It’s not just a day dedicated to opening presents, gorging on chocolate before your dinner and crashing in front of your favourite festive TV programmes. The 25 December is a time for families, friends and loved ones to gather round and spend time in one another’s company over the festive season, much like its origins.
Through the years the date has also been associated with the birth of Jesus Christ, but is that strictly true? Here we take a look back at when Jesus Christ was actually born...
When was Jesus actually born?
Christian gospels do not claim to provide a chronological account regarding the life and times of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Instead, the early writings around Christianity are dedicated to theological documents which can be compared to other historical recordings.
Therefore, the birth of Jesus is not specifically stated. It is believed to have taken place between 6BC (Before Christ) and 4BC by most scholars and even more agree of his existence, baptism and crucifixion. This time frame is calculated by many factors, including the reign of King Herod and a reference he began preaching at "about 30 years", around AD (After Death) 27-29.
Why did Jesus’s birth become associated with 25 December?
Despite modern tradition, there is no precise season or date of Jesus Christ’s day of birth. However, the 25 December has long been associated with the birth of Jesus owing to its proximity to the winter solstice.
The winter solstice is the point of the year when sunlight hours begin to increase once more after months of decreasing, leading to the notion of ‘longer days’. The event holds symbolic theological significance as Christians see the occasion as representing the Light of Christ entering the world during the darkest of days.
What is the modern day story of Jesus’s birth?
In modern day stories, notably nativity plays, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to mother Mary. It comes after Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel who explained God was sending his son to Earth for mankind. Mary and her husband Joseph left their homes in Nazareth and when they arrived in Bethlehem were told there was no room at the Inn.
Fortunately for Joseph and his pregnant wife, they managed to gain shelter in a stable for the night. Jesus was born that same night surrounded by animals. Nearby shepherds saw a bright star above Bethlehem. An angel came down from the night’s sky to tell them the Son of God had been born and to visit Jesus in the manger.
Three kings also saw the bright star and followed it as a sign a new king had been born. They visited King Herod, who ruled Bethlehem, but it became clear he was not the father. News of the birth troubled Herod who saw himself as the king of kings and asked the three kings to find Jesus for him. The three kings knelt before Jesus and offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
That same night they were warned not to tell King Herod where Jesus was by the angel. Herod grew more anxious he was to be overthrown and ordered soldiers to kill all baby boys. Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt knowing they would be safe there from Herod.