Christmas hasn’t always been December 25.
As far back as 200 A.D., there’s some evidence people celebrated Christmas on January 6, and early Christians before that didn’t celebrate Christmas at all.
But somehow in the fourth century, Christmas was moved to December 25. No one really knows why.
Christians use Christmas as a way to look back and remember the birth of Jesus, but as it turns out, Jesus most likely wasn’t born in the winter at all.
So when was Jesus born then?
Continue reading to find out the approximate date of Jesus’s real birthday.
What Does the Bible Say About This?
The Bible doesn’t actually give any specific dates for the day of Jesus’s birth, but it does give us some clues we can work with to figure it out.
To find the rough estimate date of birth for Jesus, we’ll be looking at the shepherds in the fields (a popular part of the Bible story), Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist, and when Herod the king died.
Sound like a strange list of events? Well, they all provide a bit more information to the story.
Let’s start with the shepherds, as they are the part of Jesus’s story most people probably know best.
According to this passage in Luke, “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”
So we know the shepherds were out in the fields at the time Jesus was born. This is important because they didn’t stay in the fields during the winter.
In those days, shepherds took their sheep out to the pastures in the spring, and they would leave the pastures around early October. This way, the sheep could stay in warm, protected shelter when it started to get cold.
So since the shepherds were still in the fields, the angels couldn’t have come to them any later than early October.
Elizabeth was married to a member of the priestly order of Abijah named Zacharias. Luke 1 mentions that Elizabeth became pregnant after Zacharias’s days of service at the temple.
Now, the Jewish priests were all divided into 24 parts that all served the temple at different times of the year. The Abijah priests were the eighth group to serve the temple, and they served during the 10th week of the priestly cycle.
The 10th week of the cycle happens at the same time as the second Sabbath in the month Sivan. This month lasted from the middle of May to the middle of June. So if Elizabeth became pregnant after Zacharias’s service to the temple, she became pregnant at the end of June.
Jesus was conceived when Elizabeth was six months pregnant, sometime in December. Count forward 9 months, and Jesus was likely born in mid to late September.
Herod the King
The Bible also mentions that Jesus was born during the time of Herod the king. Herod died in 4 B.C., So Jesus must have been born sometime before that.
Furthermore, before Herod died, he ordered that all boys 2 years of age and under were to be killed. This means that Jesus could have been as old as 2 when Marry and Joseph fled from Bethlaham with Jesus.
So that puts the year of Jesus birth anywhere between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C., not 0 B.C. like most people think.
When Was Jesus Born?
Next time you wonder, “when was Jesus born?”, remember Jesus wasn’t born during the Christmas season at all. But regardless of how the Christmas celebration ended up on December 25, it’s still a good time to take a moment and remember the birth of Jesus.
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