Search the Bible and you will find that it doesn’t actually tell us the date on which Jesus was born. So Christians who wanted to celebrate his birth had to pick a date, and what they picked was 25 December.
In other words Christmas Day is a bit like the Queen’s Official Birthday. The Queen was born in April but her ‘official birthday’ is celebrated in June (in Australia). In much the same way, the early Christians didn’t know Jesus’ actual birthday, so they picked a day to be his ‘official birthday’.
It was back in the year 440 that this day was picked. And it was chosen because it was close to the date of the winter solstice, 22 December. That’s about the time when the sun reaches its most southern point and starts swinging back to the north. So in the northern hemisphere it was the mid-point of winter.
From the solstice onwards the days started slowly getting longer and warmer. Now that’s not a bad thing to celebrate: which the ancient pagans did with a big party.
When those pagans became Christians they said, “Hey, let’s keep our mid-winter party, and use it to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ”. Maybe not in exactly those words, but that was the idea. And that’s how the date for Christmas was chosen.
– * Christmas WordWatch by Kel Richards