And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (Luke 2:1-3)
So Jesus was born at tax time. His birthday then, would be April 15 yes? Wait, the First month of the Roman year was March, so would it have been March? If Jesus wasn’t born on Dec. 25, why do we celebrate it then? Jesus always referred to himself as the bringer of Light to the world. The Pagans celebrated a Return of Light festival in mid December. The Jews celebrated a festival of Light at that time too. But Jesus wasn’t born on Dec. 25th.
When my husband and I were first married, we were still tied to paycheck living. We designated our birthdays to be the 1st Saturday after payday in the month our birthdays fell. Go ahead and laugh. It was funny! So how many of us celebrate George Washington’s birthday? or Lincoln’s birthday? How many of you readers know when those days are? Lincoln’s birthday is February 12th, and Washington’s is February 22nd. It’s celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February. Why? Because it gives people a 3 day weekend…if their businesses recognize it as a holiday. The company my husband works for celebrates all the federal holidays with the exception of July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, all at once. So the week between Christmas and New Year’s includes Memorial day, Labor day, President’s day, Be nice to your grandma day… It is, then, a cultural phenomenon that the actual dates aren’t as important as the remembrance.
So it really doesn’t matter that the Holiday was co-opted by the Christians. It doesn’t matter that the Christmas tree as well as the Jul Log were actually a pagan traditions. And gift giving was from the influence of Saturnalia (or maybe that was the drinking part?) There was no Santa Clause coming down the chimney…no chimneys in Bethlehem stables. Nevertheless, we celebrate Jesus’ birthday because it was a momentous occasion. God taking human form was not unusual in the Pagan religions, but these 1/2 human gods displayed power for their own use and intimidation of the humans around them. This God showed love and compassion for the humans, and even took the punishment for their disrespect to their God on Himself. It is a remembrance of the miracle of the birth of Christ, born humble, raised poor, and changing the fate of the world. If you want to celebrate the birth of Christ on March 22, or April 15, or the 3rd Monday of October, Go for it! I’ll celebrate when I feel the need for the return of Light during the year.