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The celebration of Christmas on December 25th, a date with no biblical confirmation of Jesus’ birth, traces its origins to the ancient Greco-Roman world. Early Christians did not initially commemorate the birth, and theories about the timing vary.
Origins of December 25th
Possibly originating in the 2nd century, the December 25 date has multiple theories. Sextus Julius Africanus linked it to Jesus’ conception in March, aligning with the world’s creation date. However, shepherds in the Nativity story suggest a spring birth.
Roman Influence and Pagan Festivals
The formal celebration of Christmas on December 25 in Rome began in 336 under Emperor Constantine. Sarah Pruitt suggests the date aligned with pagan festivals honoring Saturn and Mithra, making it easier to integrate Christianity into Roman traditions.
The Winter Solstice Connection
Contrastingly, Rev. Prof. Naumowicz highlights a biblical prophecy about bringing light to the world. Choosing December 25 aligns with the Roman calendar’s winter solstice, emphasizing the theme of light overcoming darkness.
The Spread of Christmas Celebrations
While the celebration spread across the Western world, Christmas did not gain prominence until the 9th century, with Epiphany and Easter viewed as more significant by many Christians.