We really don’t know what time of year that the Lord Jesus was born.  It’s safe to say that he was NOT born in December.  Let’s consider Luke 2:1-3, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”  This time of ‘tax registration’ would not have been in December when travel would have become more difficult because of the winter temperatures.

Now let’s read Luke 2:4-8, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”  It was not unusual for the sheep to be outside in the winter months, but the shepherds would not normally be outside with them in the winter months.

While we cannot be dogmatic about this, I thought these notes from F.W. Bullingers’s “The Companion Bible, were interesting and plausible:  “Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year.”

It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived as we read in Luke 1:23-24, “And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived…”  Assuming John (the Baptist) was conceived near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months  which is the difference in ages between John and Jesus (read Luke 1:35-48), that brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.  As I said earlier, this is speculative, but is very reasonable.

If this is true, why is December 25th the date chosen to celebrate or acknowledge the birth of the Lord Jesus.  It was Pope Julius who officially declared that December 25th would be the day determined to celebrate the birth of Christ.  This was about 400 A.D.  In all (shameful) likelihood, Christmas (originally: Christmass) was chosen to coincide with the Roman “Festival of Saturnalia”  which took place between December 17th and 23rd.  This festival celebrated and honored the Roman god Saturn.  Early Christians (by instruction from Julius 1) might have tried to give this festival a new meaning – to celebrate the birth of the Son of God.

I don’t find it very profitable to spend much time being concerned about the exact time of year the Lord Jesus was born.  Keep in mind, that the Lord NEVER asked us to remember Him in His birth.  He did, however, ask us to remember Him in His death.  (Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-30)  May we be faithful to honor His request often!  (195.6)