Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Choosing a birthday

Most Christians realize that we don't really know the date of Christ's birth. Biblical Archaeology Review provides an interesting account of "How December 25 Became Christmas":
.... By the fourth century...we find references to two dates that were widely recognized—and now also celebrated—as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.

The earliest mention of December 25 as Jesus’ birthday comes from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs. The first date listed, December 25, is marked: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae: “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea.” .... [more]
The article throws more doubt on theories attributing the date to pagan influence and advances an alternative. Read it all, especially if such disputes affect you or your church.

How December 25 Became Christmas - Biblical Archaeology Review