2016-12-16 - Dating Christmas
Originally Published 2008-12-26
This may surprise some people but Christmas, or rather Jesus' birthday, was probably not December 25 or even 1 AD for that matter. Just the fact that shepherds were out in the field with the sheep meant it was not winter. I just checked the weather in Israel and it is 49 degrees. You would be crazy to sleep out in the fields with the sheep with temperatures like that.
Records were not the best back then and dates can be confusing due to many different calendars but here are some date approximations to consider. In 12 BC, Rome ordered a census, which was finished around 8 or 7 BC. In 4 BC, Herod died - Jesus was born before his death.
So let's see what we can uncover by examining the scripture; but first, I need to tell you a little about the Jewish calendar. They use a lunar calendar system which gets off a little more than our modern 365 day calendar so rather than a single day being added every four years they get an extra month for leap year every so often to keep the lunar months in sync with the solar year. The Jewish year starting in spring consists of Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishri, Heshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar. In leap years, Adar becomes Adar 2 and an Adar 1 is added in if I understand it correctly.
Now for the fast journey through scripture:
After doing a little digging with calendar conversion tools, I found that these were some possible dates for Tishri 15 back then:
So if Herod died in 4 BC, Christ was born at least two years before that and his earthly parents went to Bethlehem dues to a census, his birthday would be sometime after mid September on in to early October. The point of all this isn't really to point to some other day specifically though. However, since we don't know what day Jesus was born on maybe instead of celebrating it on December 25 we should celebrate it every day. The hope, joy, peace, and love that we cherish during the Christmas season should be with us every other day as well. As Charles Dickens put it, "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
Hope yesterday, today and tomorrow are all wonderful Christ days for you!
All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted