The Catholic Defender: Was December 25 Instituted to coincide a Pagan Feast?
John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life".
When I look at well known figures in history, there are a lot of them well known who lived before the birth of Christ.
People accept history and records their date of births like Pluto (428-348 B.C.), Socrates (471-399 B.C.), and Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) as examples, but when it comes to Jesus Christ, the most important name in history that split time from B.C. to A.D., some people just can't accept Jesus Birthday.
The Gospel writings do not give a clear date within it's pages, but what about the Tradition of the Church, that history handed down, can we be sure of Christ's birth?
Does it really matter? To be honest, many people would not care that much about it one way or the other.
But for Deepertruth, we believe that Jesus as a historical figure is every bit as important as Pluto, Socrates, and Caesar, actually, Jesus is infinitely far more important.
Jesus Christ was born December 25, 2 B.C. and he died April 3, 33 A.D., we will show though the next few weeks during Advent showing from Scripture, history, tradition, and science that this is true.
We have been challenged by some who reject the Catholic Church so vehemently that they will dispute anything that she produces to include the very birth of Jesus.
One point of view held is that the Christmas season was based from Paganism, or at least established to coincide with Pagan feasts.
First of all, the Roman Calendar held Pagan feasts regularly, that would not be the prime purpose of why December 25th was set up as Jesus birth.
They will often cite the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. as when the strategy was developed to undermine Pagan influence and feast.
Long before 325 A.D., consider some of the historical details I'll pose for thought here:
During this time, we also read the following words of Theophilus (A.D. 115-181), Catholic Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine: “We ought to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.” Notice the time of Theophilus and the location from which he served the Church? Palestine! It would only stand to reason that Theophilus would recognize the historical record coming from that area of the world.
This was not simply known in Palestine, but it went world wide, December 25, 125 A.D., Pope Telephorus, 7th successor of St. Peter, established the custom of Midnight Mass in Rome.
Two years later, December 25, 127 A.D. Pope Telephorus began the custom of Midnight Mass singing in honor of the Christmas Story, the angels announcing the good news. This tradition is felt all over the world today.
In the 2nd century, a massacre in the catacombs on December 25th was recorded as having occurred on the date of the Nativity. During the Roman Persecution of the Catholic Faith, many were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Shortly thereafter in the second century, Saint Hippolytus (A.D. 170-240) wrote in passing that the birth of Christ occurred on December 25:
“The First Advent of our Lord in the flesh occurred when He was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, a Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, which is five thousand and five hundred years from Adam. He suffered in the thirty-third year, (April 3, 33 A.D.,) Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.”
313 A.D. The Early Christians built a Church over the site of where Jesus was born, Constantine was by this time a Christian.
379 A.D. The preaching of Saints such as St. Gregory Nazianzus spoke of Christmas continuing the tradition of December 25.
Saint Augustine confirms the tradition of March 25 as the Messianic conception and December 25 as His birth:
For Christ is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th
397 A.D. The hymns of St Ambrose began to inspire many.
567 A.D. The Council of Tours establishing the Seasons of Advent and Christmas into the Church calendar.
Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic Jew, wrote, “There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds which seem to me historically untenable.”
This portion of our testimony defending December 25th 2 B.C. as the actual birthday of Jesus gives a solid foundation as we show a historical path from sound reason alone, but as we proceed in following articles on this subject, the facts will be so strong that only a biased agenda will continue to deny the obvious.
December 25 2 B.C. The Birth of Jesus “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (Isaiah 9:5-6).
“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was Governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)
Since the publishing of this article, I was challenged with this question:
The dates you give (Dec 25, 2 B.C. - April 3, 33 A.D.), make him 35 at the time of death. We know that is not accurate.
I agree, Jesus was not 35 years old. Here is my answer:
No, actually Jesus was 33 1/2 years old. We know Jesus was about 30 years old when He began his public Ministry. When you look at December 25, 2 B.C. and we look to April 33 A.D., you have to subtract about 9 months as we are not counting Dec 33. Then you take a look at his age being closer to 33 1/2 and you have another 6 months to add in the equation which would be about 15 months. Just going from Dec 2 B.C., you do not add year 0, so you gain 12 months there. On Dec 25, 32 A.D., Jesus would be 33 years old. Guess What, Jan 1, 33 A.D is right around the corner. Give April and you have about 33 and 1/2 years old.