Part 1: When Is Jesus Birthday In The Bible
Jesus’ birthday has long been a source of controversy and debate. The Bible does not provide specific details on when Jesus was born. The only reference to a date given for Jesus’ birth appears in Luke 2:7 which states, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” But, this date has not been established to be definitive.
Some suggest Jesus was born in November, while others contend that December is the correct month of his birth. Some point to the menagerie described in the book of Luke and argue that the weather for animal herding would have been far too cold during December.
Historically there have been two major interpretations when it comes to determining the birth of Jesus. According to the Eastern Orthodox Church, Jesus was born on December 25th, in the year 7BC. The other interpretation is that Jesus was born no later than 4BC. Both interpretations disagree on when Jesus was born and the exact year that is to be attributed to his birth. Ultimately, both interpretations accept the same birthdetails but differ in how years are calculated and recorded.
The vast majority of churches and believers, including non-Christians, accept December 25th as Jesus’ birthdate. The Bible has been interpreted to suit this interpretation and it is suggested that Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem in October and then Jesus was born shortly thereafter.
Therefore, the date of Jesus’ birth is based on interpretations and assumptions about Biblical accounts. One cannot take a literal interpretation of texts provided and be certain of the exact date of his birth.
Part 2: Origins Of Jesus’ Birthday
The origins of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday remain shrouded in mystery. The early Christians never celebrated his birthday and more than likely, the Gospels of Luke and Matthew never even mentioned it.
The date, December 25, is said to not be backed by historical records and appears to have originated in Imperial Rome and standardised centuries later by the 4th-century Roman Catholic Church to legitimise Christianity in the face of powerful pagan religions. This is why some believe today’s holiday season actually absorbed the pagan customs already present in the Roman world.
The idea of a birthday cake for Jesus began with Martin Luther and the Christkindl tradition. However, in Victorian England there was a trend to have Christmas parties with children exchanging gifts and singing carols, etc. This eventually evolved into celebrating Jesus’ birthday and exchanging gifts.
Part 3: The Bible On Jesus’ Birthday
The Bible is not clear as to the exact date of Jesus’ birth. In fact, it does not mention the day in any of its books. It does discuss shepherds watching their flocks, which may indicate a spring birth or that of an early autumn. It also talks about snow, which suggests a winter birth.
The Bible only gives us context and circumstantial evidence that can help support one or the other theory. But, the bottom line is no one knows the exact date of Jesus birth.
The Bible does refer to Jesus’ birth on more than one occasion and speaks of the implications of his life and of the star above that led the Magi to Jesus. There are several verses about Jesus being “born” for us, for God, for the world, and so forth.
Part 4: Analyzing The Bible Verses
Many scholars have examined the verses in an effort to determine when Jesus was likely born. While the conclusion of such an examination will naturally depend on a variety of factors, some have suggested that he was born during September, October, or November.
The gospels of Luke and Matthew provide us with the most discussion of Jesus’ birth. They also include details surrounding the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, such as the census and visits from wise men.
Matthew 2:1-2 states: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’” This verse is often seen as providing evidence to suggest a December birthdate.
Part 5: Beliefs Around The World
Many cultures celebrate Jesus’ birthday widely, but opinions still exist about which day he actually was born. Some countries, such as Russia, celebrate Jesus’ birth on January 7th. There are also different beliefs about the date of Jesus’ birth around the world, with some believing it to be in March and others in April.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt subscribes to a belief that Jesus was born on the 29th of August in the year 5BC, which is almost precisely a year before 4 BC.
In Ethiopia, the Coptic Church celebrates Jesus’ birthday on the 7th of January, a day known as “Timkat”, which roughly translates to “baptism”. It is a week-long festival with colourful parades that last over three days.
Part 6: Religious Perspectives
For many believers, the details surrounding Jesus’ birth are part of the mystery and the joy of the season. While the exact date is not necessarily known, the celebration of Jesus’ birth throughout the year is central to many religious faiths and traditions.
For Orthodox churches, such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox, the traditional celebration occurs on a different date than the one many people commonly assign to Jesus’ birthday. For these churches, Jesus’ birth is celebrated on January 7th.
In the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Jesus’ birth is typically commemorated on January 28th. His baptism is marked on January 19th, and his ascension is recognized on August 29th.
Part 7: Interpreting Nativity Scenes
The main purpose of a nativity scene is to help believers and non-believers alike to reflect upon and explore the birth of Jesus. It is a visual aid that can help convey the spiritual significance of Jesus’ birth, life and teachings.
The traditional nativity scene includes elements of the Gospels, such as the manger in Bethlehem, the three wise men, and of course the infant Jesus. All of these reference points can help to spark conversations within families, friends and communities about the story of Jesus’ birth.
Nativity scenes may depict a variety of images to help deepen the understanding of the birth of Jesus and can help the viewer to feel the joy, humility and love that come with the birth of a child.
Part 8: Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday
Regardless of the date of Jesus’ birth being unknown, Christians around the world celebrate his birthday as a special time of year. This is usually during December, as the cold winter was believed to have been when Jesus was born.
Christmas celebrations include many activities and traditions, such as decorating homes, exchanging gifts, gathering with family, singing carols, and of course attending midnight mass at Christmas Eve services.
In addition, many also use this time of year to focus on acts of charity and giving. It is often a time of reflection on the joyous birth of Jesus and the hope it offers the world.
Part 9: Christmas Across Cultures
Various cultures have traditional ways of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. In Mexico, the celebration usually begins on ‘Dia de los Reyes’ (The Day of the Kings) when Mexicans gather for a special meal and exchange presents.
At midnight masses held in many countries, congregations often light candles and join in singing carols which tell the story of Jesus’ birth. In many Latin American countries, the day is celebrated with traditional dancing and feasting.
In Italy, wise men parade through city streets on horseback on the night of Epiphany, while in Germany, the Christkind (Christ Child) leaves presents under the tree on Christmas Eve.
Part 10: Jesus’ Legacy
Jesus left his disciples with a legacy of justice, compassion, and love. The tumultuous times in which he lived created a need to speak directly to various social, political and religious issues. His teachings essentially asked people to re-establish their relationship with God and exhibit compassion towards each other.
Jesus also taught humanity to love our neighbor and do for the less fortunate. This legacy offers comfort to the world during times of despair and hope when the journey of life seems too daunting to travel. It stands as a reminder that even during the darkest of times, Jesus is our light.
Ultimately, Jesus’ legacy is one of inclusion, reflection and peace. His birth is a beacon of hope for many, a reminder to go beyond simply belief and to act on what we genuinely believe in.