Advent Stumper!


This really caught me off gaurd! A business colleague came to me today and asked if Jesus was actually born on the 25th December because someone had told him he was born in September. I started to say of course he wasn’t- there’s a reason we celebrate Christmas (and Easter for that matter) when we do when I started thinking, we actually probably do know exactly when he was born from the info in Luke and the royal records and astronomy. So, anyone know when exactly he was born? How should I go about answering this question?


We don’t even know what year he was born.


These are just my musings and what I remember from studies …No long quotes, just my memory here …

No one knows what year, month or day Jesus was born …though this is constantly argued some say December is the time others say nay …

The celebration of Christmas is not a celebration of the ‘day’ Jesus was actually born, it is celebration of the Incarnation, that God entered time, bbeing both fully huan and fully divine. The emphasis on the “baby” Jesus is relatively new. St. Francis of Assisi did not think people reflected enough on the birth and infancy narratives, got together a group of people and animals to dramatize the scene … The Creche was memorialized …

Initially [and we keep that focus with Advent] the period of time leading up to the celebration of the Incarnation [First Coming] was penitential in nature … Prepare you the way … John the Baptist, etc…with the Incarnation being the background reflection for preparing our lives for the Second Coming, the final judgement … That is why we read the readings we have at Mass, celebrate Reconcilliation and use purple [a penetential color]. Though not as somber and penitential as Lent, we are still
preparing our hearts for God’s coming …

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice … many cultures do … the church took this time near the shortest day, and used that day to celebrate the Light of the World, the day of Salvation … it seems very appropriate when you think about it…

An aside the Immaculate Conception is celebrated 9 months before the date that the church celebrates the birth of Mary … The early church celebrated the birth of Mary, it is one of the earliest references to feast days…another day that is celebrated for its deeper meaning not its calendar accuracy … IMHO


OK that’s all good, thanks…But I was wondering…We know about Herod’s census, right? So there must be a date for that right?

I’m sure I saw a tv show were they checked through astromic records to show there was a comet in the sky about Bethlehem at a certain time that coincided with Jesus’s approxiamate birthday…Anyone know anything about these things???


I don’t think there’s any firm extra-biblical evidence of either of those events. We do know that King Herod died in the year 3 B.C. That doesn’t help us much with the date, though…


Good News: Jesus Christ was born on December 25, 1 BC.


When I was a kid I saw a program at a planetarium that showed how around Dec 25th in the middle east there would have been some convergence of stars or planets or comets that would have been extremely bright and appear over Bethlehem to those in the east. Pretty cool…I wish I knew more info.


At one time, people believed that when the Bible said someone lived 120 years, if he was holy, it was 120 years exactly. He died on his birthday. That said, the Early Church looked at it from this standard. They knew that Jesus died sometime in March or April, and in fact had it narrowed down to two days. When they thought about it, though, the Incarnation was more important than the actual Birth. After all, that was the true miracle and the begining of salvation. March 25 was picked as the date for the Conception of Jesus. That made December 25 the date for the Birth. has this spelled out better, I think.


And for those who, like me, couldn’t digest this, here’s the highlight of the article:

Today, the secular world also recognizes the explicitly Catholic nature of the “Christ-Mass” celebration, and so in most US cities the phrase “Merry Christmas” has been quietly replaced with the religiously-neutral “Happy Holidays.” Singing Christmas carols at public events is a serious no-no. Erecting manger scenes in front of public buildings is against the law in many places. Eventually, someone at the ACLU will realize that the word “Holidays” is just a variation on the Catholic term “Holy Day” (as in, “holy days of obligation,” to which category Christmas belongs), and then we’ll be seeing the ubiquitous presence of slogans like “Merry Winter Festival,” or “Happy Solstice!”



Thanks, this is good stuff. One point which it didn’t address is the assumption that Josephus’ dates are 100% reliable, implicit in most arguments against the accuracy of the Gospel accounts. Why do scholars tend to assume this?


Father Most does a nice piece on this…


I don’t think too much can be read into this. Any convergence of stars, planets and comets, or any other celestial phenomenon that can be said to be “over” any particular spot on Earth, can be said to be over any spot in that general lattitude as the Earth rotates beneath it throughout the day.


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