Is There A Reason Why Christmas Is Celebrated On 25 December?

The Bible does not state that Jesus Christ was born on 25 December. In fact, there is no date available that can point us to the actual birth date of Jesus. So, why is Christmas celebrated on 25 December?

The first recorded celebration of Christmas on 25 December was during the reign of Emperor Constantine in 336 AD. He was the first Christian Roman emperor and thereafter when the church became powerful, Pope Julius I declared that the birth of Christ would henceforth be celebrated on 25 December, and ever since Christians around the world have been celebrating Christmas on this day.

However, there are many theories that try to explain why the birth of Christ is celebrated on this particular day. According to an ancient legend, it was on 25 March that Mary found out that she was going to give birth to a special child. And exactly nine months later is 25 December. Hence, people believe that Jesus was born on 25 December. However, there were some Christian believers who believed that the world was made by God on 25 March and it was on this day that Jesus died as an adult.

But, it is quite possible that this particular date was chosen as it coincided with the winter solstice. During the ancient times, the Romans celebrated the winter solstice with festivals, such as Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. These festivals were celebrated in December and when the Catholic Church became powerful, it found it very difficult to get the people to leave behind their pagan beliefs. So, to make the religion more attractive, it incorporated many of the pagan beliefs and celebrations and made them into Christian beliefs and celebrations.

The pagans believed that with winter solstice, the winter was over and the spring was round the corner. They celebrated the coming of spring by worshipping the sun, so that it could conquer the darkness of winter. In some parts of Scandinavia, winter solstice was also called Yule and this is where the Yule log comes from. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia some time between 17 December and 23 December when they honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and harvest. Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which translates to the birthday of the unconquered sun was another festival that the Romans celebrated. This was celebrated on 25 December as the birthday of Mithra, the pagan’s sun god.

In early Christianity, the people celebrated Christmas on 6 January, as the day of Epiphany and the day when Christ was baptized. However, today, Epiphany is celebrated as the day when the three Magi came to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Also, it is interesting to note that baptism of Christ was considered to be more important than His birth, as it was believed that after He was baptized, Christ began preaching. However, as time went by, Christians also wanted to celebrate His birthday, so a date had to be found for this purpose. The most convenient date at that time was 25 December, as it was a major pagan celebration that even the Christians celebrated.