Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25th?
The date of Christ’s actual birth is not known, and not recorded in Bible. However, Christians of all denominations and faith groups celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. It is believed that the first celebrations of the child’s birth were done with Epiphany (Eastern orthodox, Anglican and Catholic), which is one of the earliest feasts of Christian Churches. It was celebrated on January 6th. This day was remembered for the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, the baptism of Jesus, and his miracle of turning water into wine.
Some say that Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 171-183) was the first to identify December 25th as the birth date of Christ. Others say that Hippolytus (ca. 170-236) claimed for the first time that Jesus was born on December 25th. So this belief has been confirmed eventually by the church, because it was falling in parallel with the Pagan festival, ‘dies natalis solis invicti’, which means birth of invincible sun GOD.
Ultimately, December 25th was chosen probably as early as 273 AD. By 336 AD the Roman church calendar also recorded a native celebration by Western Christians on this date, but Eastern churches retained January 6th tied up with Epiphany until the 5th or 6th centuries. Later, December 25th was widely accepted as a holiday, commemorated for Christmas. Only the Armenian Church maintained the original celebration of Jesus’ birth on January 6th.
According to Dr. Kelly’s research, and what he has depicted in his books, ‘The origin of Christmas’ and ‘The world of the early Christians’, the main reasons for choosing December 25th as the date of Christmas was the date of the creation of the World, and the vernal equinox. Early Christian writer, Sextus Julius Africanus (220AD), speculated that the world was created on March 25th when Jesus was incarnated in Mary’s Womb. So, 9 months after his incarnation he was born on December 25th. The vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere occurs in Spring, and in the Southern Hemisphere it occurs in Autumn. During the vernal equinox, which is the significant Spring season for Christians, was also believed to be the right time for the conception of Jesus.
Some people believe that Jesus died on March 25th, as well as was conceived on the same day, and 9 months after that he was born. Yet another reason was put forward by writer Saint John Chrysostom, who said that December 25th was decided as Christ’s birth day on the basis of scriptures and Jewish tradition. David Morrison says another possibility is that Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in sixth month of the Jewish year, which would be around Feb/Mar. So after 9 months of pregnancy, Jesus was born on December 25th.
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