Christianity is the world’s chief religion and each year, hundreds of millions of Christians the world over celebrate Christmas Day on the 25th of December to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, believed to be the son of God. But how many know Christmas history enoguh to understand what they are doing?
The festive period of Christmas is such a joyous one that billions of non-Christians, even Muslims, around the world join in. It is a period when families and friends get reunited, give and receive gifts, remember old times together and even reconcile with old enemies. Children particularly love Christmas for its festive mood and the happiness and joy it stands for.
Despite all the indulgence in Christmas and Christmas day celebrations, as mentioned earlier, so many do not even know its true origin or the correct date of ‘Charismas Day’ as regards the birth of Jesus Christ. Their knowledge of Christmass history simply does not exist.
Well, rest easy because here we will read about some very interesting facts about Christmas history that will shade more light on everything.

Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

Below are some interesting facts about Christmas history you never know abou even as you celebrated the festival years.

 

The Origin Of the Name ‘Christmas’ (Christmas history and making)

The name Christmas is coined from the Mass of Christ Jesus. A special service which is sometimes called the Eucharist or the Holy comminution is where Christians remember that Christ Jesus died for us and then on the third day rose back to life. In ancient times, the Christ-mass was the only one allowed to take place after sundown and before sunrise and so people chose to have it at midnight! In time, the name got shortened to Christmas and so was the first step towards Chromes Day taken.

The Actual Date Of Christmas Day

No specific date is given in the Holy Bible or the Holy Book of Jews, the Torah, as the birth date of Jesus Christ. In fact, no one really knows the exact birthday of Jesus Christ, so why do people go on to celebrate Christmas day every year on the 25th of December? On record are so many arguments among early Christians as to the correct date on which Christmas day should be celebrated. Furthermore, the exact date on which Jesus was born is not really known, as not that many people saw the birth of Jesus Christ as significate in that period. Jesus was just another baby of thousands born at the time. Currently, all we have are approximations and estimates of the birth date of Jesus based on actual events that took place at the time. Jesus wasn’t really born in the year 1 as the current calendar suggests but slightly earlier.  Most scholars assume the date of birth of Jesus Christ to be between 6 BC and 2 BC.

Note now please, that the era known as BC or BCE is not and is very different from that era commonly referred to as ‘Before Common Era’. In fact, in the correct dating system that is somewhat complex, the term ‘Before Common Era’ doesn’t exist. It is merely an error on the part of ignorant people. Between the BCE era and the year 1 that begins our current era comes the AD era known as ‘In the year of our Lord’… this is the era in which Jesus walked the Earth and it stretches for only 33 years – Jesus Christ died in 33 AD.

The earliest date on record of Christmas day being celebrated on a December 25th was in the year 336, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor ever. A couple of years later, Pope Julius 1 made the official declaration that the birth of Jesus Christ would from then on be celebrated on the 25th of December.

Nonetheless, there are many theories and traditions as to why Christmas day is celebrated on the 25th day of December.
One of the earliest known Christian tradition holds that the day on which the Virgin Mary was told that she would give birth to a very special baby, Christ Jesus (that day is called the Annunciation) was on the 25th day of March. The day of Annunciation is still celebrated till this day, always on the 25th of March. Precisely nine months after the 25th of March is none other than the 25th of December!
Interestingly, there are certain Christian sects that celebrate the 25th of March for other reasons. They believe the world was created on the 25th of March. However, the larger body of Christians celebrates the March 25th as the day on which Jesus died as an adult. Other sects of both Christians and Jews believe that the 25th of March (on the Jewish calendar, it is the 14th day of Nisan) was the real day Jesus was born and it is the same date he later died almost 33 years later.

Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

On the other hand, depending on the calendar used in the calculation and the belief, this date of the death of Jesus can actually shift from March 25th into April. We celebrate it as Easter!

The Pagan Worshipers and Christmas Day

To add to all these, there are people who feel that the Romans choose the 25th of December as Christmas day because there were already a lot of ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals being celebrated within the period.  The festivals of ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ and the Saturnalia, even the winter solstice, they all took place around December 25th – and so this was already a period in which people celebrated things anyway.

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the day in which the period between the rising of the sun and the sun setting is shortest. It normally occurs in the northern hemisphere on December 21th or December 22nd. To pagans, this was an indication that winter was over and spring was coming and so they had a festival to celebrate it, worshiping the sun god for winning over the darkness of winter.
In certain countries of Northern Europe and Scandinavia, the Winter Solstice is known as the Yule which is where the Yule Logs come from. Over in Eastern Europe, the festival of mid-winter is known as Koleda

 

Other Ancient Roman Festivals

The old Roman Festival of Saturnalia usually took place around the period of December 17th to December 23rd, and it celebrates the Roman god Saturn.
The other major Roman festival of the period, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means ‘birthday of the unconquered sun, usually took place precisely on the 25th of December (the day on which the Romans believed the Winter Solstice actually occurred) and was a celebration of the birthday of the pagan sun god, Mithra. Interesting also is the fact that in the pagan religion of Mithraism, the chosen holy day was Sunday, and now you know where the name of the last day of the week was gotten from.
Although the Roman Emperor Aurelian created the festival of ‘Sol Invictus’ in the year 274, there are records showing that early Christians had already connected the 14th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar to the 25th of March and so the celebration of 25th December as Christmas Day actually goes way back to the year 200.

The Jewish Festival Of Lights

The Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins on the 25th of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, a month that coincides with the period of December. Hanukkah celebrates the period in which the Jews were able to rededicate their temple and worship again after a long period of Exile in Babylon in which the Temple lay in ruins.

Jesus Christ being a Jew, one could reason that this factor was influential in the early church picking the 25th day of December as Christmas day (christmas history).

Did you know that the early Church used to celebrate Christmas Day on the 6th of January? They did it together with the Epiphany! The Epiphany is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the son of God and His Baptism. Modern-day Epiphany mostly celebrates the visit of the three wise men to the newborn baby Jesus Christ but in ancient times, it celebrated all three things. The Baptism of Jesus was then seen as more important than his birth for it indicated the beginning of his ministry on earth. But soon, people wanted a separate date for each event, particularly the birth of Jesus, hence the quest for a Christmas day.
Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

The Modern Dating System

Most of the modern world uses the Gregorian calendar which was implemented by Pope Gregory VIII in the year 1582. Before that, the Roman Calendar was in use (named the Julian calendar after Julius Caesar). The Gregorian calendar is actually more accurate than the Roman version which had too many days in a year! When the switch was made, no less than 10 days were lost, hence the day that followed the 4th of October 1582 was the 15th of October 1582.
In Britain, the change of colander was made in 1752. The day that followed the 2nd of September was the 14th of September.
Many Coptic and Orthodox churches still use the Roman calendar and so celebrate Christmas Day on the 7th of January (which corresponds with the 25th of December on the Gregorian Calendar.).

The American Apostolic Church does things a bit different by celebrating charismas day on the 6th of January.

Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

In some parts of Britain, the 6th of January is still called ‘old Christmas day’ because this would have been the original Christmas day had the calendar not been changed.  Quite a number of people today still cling to the old Roman colander rather than use the new Gregorian one because they feel that the new Gregorian calendar cheated them out of 11 days of this lives!
Jesus is the light of the world, this Christians believe and so felt that 25th of December was the perfect time to celebrate Christmas day. As the world got more Christianized, a lot of pagan mid-winter customs were stripped and given Christian meanings with respect to Christmas, they include, Mistletoe, Holly and even the Christmas Carols you know so well.
Saint Augustine is the one responsible for establishing Christmas in Britain by the introduction of Christianity in the 6th century. He came from European lands where the Roman calendar was in use. It was from here and other European lands that Christianity and Christmas day celebration spread to the rest of the world.
Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

So when was Jesus Actually Born? (Origin of Christmas history)

There is a very good reason why knowledgeable people believe Jesus was not born in winter but in the spring or even autumn. For one thing, it can get very cold in winter with a lot of snow and so it would have been very unlikely that the shepherds would have been out with their sheep.
During the spring (March to April), there is a special Jewish festival known as the ‘Passover’. This festival is in remembrance of the time when the Jews where delivered from slavery in Egypt about 1600 years before the birth of Christ. Lots of lambs are sacrificed in the temple during this period and Jews from all over the Roman Empire traveled down to Jerusalem to observe the festival and so it definitely was the perfect time for the Romans to take a Census. Joseph took his pregnant wife, Mary, to Bethlehem for the Census. Bethlehem is just six miles away from Jerusalem.
In the autumn comes the Jewish festival of ‘Sukkot’ or The Feast of Tabernacles’ as we know it because it is the festival most mentioned in the Bible! This is when the Jews remember that they depended on God for survival for forty years while in the desert after the exodus from the land of Egypt. This is also a festival to celebrate the end of the Harvest period. During this festival, Jews live out in tents and other forms of temporary shelter. The word tabernacle is Latin for tent or hut.
Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December

 

A lot of scholars believe that Sukkot is a more suiting period for the birth of Christ due to the description of there ‘being no room in the Inn’ hence the relocation to the manger where Christ was born. This period was also a good time for a Roman Census.
For another thing, the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem puts the birth of Christ towards spring or autumn and not winter.
In truth, the precise date of the Birth of Jesus is not really known. The calendar system we use now was created in the 6th century by a Monk Dionysius Exiguus. The monk was actually trying to create a better Calendar system to help place the Easter period accurately with the date of birth of Christ sitting in the year 1. However, he got his Maths all wrong.
Scholars now think Jesus was born between the year 2 BCE and 6 BCE (BCE is the same as BC). Most believe it is most likely in 4 BCE. The main confusion here is that before Dionysus’s calendar, years were usually dated with respect to the reign of Roman Emperors. The calendar created by Dionysus was put into use only from the 8th Century when the  ‘Venerable Bode of Northumbria’ made use of it in his history book.
The year 0 does not exist. Bode started dating things from the year 1 and used 1 BCE as the year before 1. At that point in time, the number 0 did not exist in the mathematics of Europe. It only arrived in the 11th century!
And so, anytime you celebrate Christmas day, remember, it is an actual event that took place about 2030 years ago, a day God gave his only son to the world as a Christmas gift!
Some Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Christmas History and 25th of December
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