There are two major theories for how the church landed on December 25 as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The first theory is known as the “Computation Theory,” and “computes” the day of Jesus’ birth from the day he was believed to have been crucified, which was March 25. In ancient times it was believed that important figures in history lived literally “complete” lives, meaning that they would die on the same day they had been conceived. Believing that Jesus died on March 25, they thus believed this was the date in which he had been conceived, and so working forward nine months they arrived at December 25 as the date of Jesus’ birth. Simple math!
The second theory, which is perhaps more well-known, is known as the “History of Religions” theory. In this theory, December 25 was chosen because of its proximity to the pagan holiday celebrating Sol Invictus, the “Invincible Sun.” By the 4th century (around the time we first hear of Christmas), Sol, the sun god, had become the chief god of the Roman Empire.Read More