Was Jesus Born On Christmas Day?

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25th as the birthday of Jesus Christ. But was Jesus really born on this day? Many Christians wonder about the true date of Jesus’ birth. In this post, we’ll examine the evidence from the Bible and other historical sources to try to determine when Jesus was really born.


Christmas is one of the most important holidays on the Christian calendar. For over 1600 years, believers have gathered on December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. The tradition of observing December 25th as Jesus’ birthday originated in the 4th century AD, after the Christian church became the official religion of the Roman empire.

Prior to the 4th century, there is no record of early Christians celebrating December 25th as Jesus’ birthday. The Bible does not give an exact date for when Jesus was born. So where did the tradition of celebrating Christmas on December 25th come from? Was Jesus really born on this day? Or was December 25th chosen for other reasons?

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Over the centuries, there has been a lot of debate among scholars, historians and theologians about the true date of Jesus’ birth. Even today, the question remains disputed in some circles. In this post, we will sift through the evidence to try to determine if December 25th is the real date of Jesus’ birth, or just a date chosen later by the church for convenience.

Here are the key takeaways from this post:

  • The Bible does not specify the exact date of Jesus’ birth
  • December 25th was popularized as Jesus’ birthday in the 4th century AD
  • Some evidence suggests Jesus was born in the springtime
  • December 25th may have been chosen to coincide with pagan winter solstice festivals
  • There are different theories about the possible months of Jesus’ birth
  • We may never know for sure exactly when Jesus was born

As we examine the evidence, keep an open mind. While we may not be able to pinpoint the precise day that Jesus was born, we can still celebrate the miracle of the incarnation at Christmas time, regardless of the uncertain date. The joyful message of Christmas remains the same – Emmanuel, God is with us!

Was Jesus Born On Christmas Day?

The Bible Does Not Specify Jesus’ Birthday

The gospels of Matthew and Luke provide detailed accounts of Jesus’ birth. But neither gospel gives an exact date for when he was born. Luke 2:8 mentions that, at the time of Jesus’ birth, shepherds were watching over their flocks at night in the field. This hints that Jesus’ birth may have been in spring or summer, since December would have been too cold for shepherds to be outdoors at night. But this evidence is inconclusive. Nowhere do the gospels state that Jesus was born on a specific day or month.

December 25th as Jesus’ birthday is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The lack of a clear biblical date for Jesus’ birth leads some scholars to conclude that December 25th must have been chosen for other symbolic reasons, rather than being the actual day that Jesus was born. However, proponents of the December 25th date point out that just because the date is not mentioned in Scripture does not necessarily mean it is incorrect. The gospels were not intended to be chronological calendars, so we cannot expect them to provide precise dates for events in Jesus’ life.

December 25th Popularized in the 4th Century

While the Bible does not mention December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, it was popularized as his birthday very early in church history. As Christianity spread throughout the Roman empire, many Christian converts still celebrated pagan winter festivals like Saturnalia and Natalis Solis Invicti around the time of the winter solstice. The winter solstice, which occurs in late December, signified the rebirth of the sun god Sol Invictus. Early church leaders saw symbolism in this pagan festival that could point to Jesus as the divine Son and “sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2).

Around the year 273 AD, the Roman emperor Aurelian established Natalis Solis Invicti as an official holiday celebrated on December 25th. In the year 350 AD, Pope Julius I officially declared December 25th as the birthday of Jesus. Some scholars believe the church chose December 25th to provide an alternative holiday for newly converted Christians, so they could continue their winter celebrations without engaging in pagan worship.

Other historians argue that December 25th was chosen completely independent of the pagan festivals, and that early Christians simply calculated Jesus’ birth as occurring nine months after his conception, which they believed coincided with his death around March 25th. Regardless of the reasons, by the late 4th century the celebration of Christmas on December 25th was well-established across the Roman empire and beyond.

Evidence That Jesus Was Born in Spring

While the December 25th date became popularized in the 4th century, some scholars believe the evidence points to Jesus having been born in the springtime instead. Here are some key points in favor of a spring birth:

  • Luke’s mention of shepherds watching over flocks at night (Luke 2:8) suggests a spring lambing season rather than winter.
  • REQUIRINGtravel for a census (Luke 2:1-3) would have been unlikely in winter when roads were difficult.
  • The gospels mention the angel told shepherds of Jesus’ birth as a “sign” (Luke 2:12). This could refer to the spring constellation of Aries the ram.
  • Zechariah served as a priest in the temple in June according to his “division” (Luke 1:5). If John was conceived soon after, Jesus’ birth 6 months later would be in spring.
  • Jesus began his ministry shortly after turning 30 years old (Luke 3:23) after John started baptizing in spring, suggesting Jesus was also born in spring.

While not definitive, these clues indicate Jesus may have been born between March-May. An influential study published in the late 1800s argued Jesus was born on April 17, 6 BC. Still, the evidence remains inconclusive, with reasonable cases also made for winter or summer birth dates. We just don’t know for certain when Jesus’ birth occurred.

Theories on Jesus’ Possible Birth Month

If Jesus was not born on December 25th, then in what month was he likely born? Here are some of the main theories:

March or April – Points to a spring lambing season and ties to the conception, birth, and ministry patterns of John the Baptist. Some argue for April 17.

September – Links Jesus’ birth to Rosh Hashanah and fits with some interpretations of Revelation 12 regarding the woman clothed with the sun.

October – Could fit with the Day of Atonement on the 10th month of the Hebrew calendar.

November – Points to traditions linking Jesus to the Festival of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication in winter.

December – Connects Jesus’ birth to Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, on the 25th of Kislev in the Jewish calendar.

January-February – Fits with possible clues about Shepherds, Roman census timing, and the conception of John the Baptist.

As you can see, almost every month of the year has been proposed by some scholars! While December has become the most widespread choice, there are decent arguments for Jesus having been born in other seasons as well.

We May Never Know for Sure

Part of the difficulty in pinpointing the precise date of Jesus’ birth is that we lack enough detailed information from the gospels and other historical sources. The gospels focus on the story and theological significance of Jesus’ birth, not the exact calendar date. Precision was not as important to ancient cultures and historians as it is to modern minds.

Additionally, the dating systems and calendars used in the first century AD are complex and difficult to reconcile with our modern Gregorian calendar. Most scholars believe Jesus was born a few years before 1 AD, but even the year is challenging to determine absolutely.

Should Christians be concerned that we cannot definitively prove from Scripture or history the exact date that Jesus was born? For some believers, not knowing the precise details seems to undermine the Christmas celebration. However, I would argue that not knowing for sure the exact day or even year that Jesus was born does not diminish the incredible miracle of the incarnation.

As Luke 2:11 declares, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The beauty and wonder of Christmas is that the Son of God became human for us, regardless of the uncertain dating. We should not lose sight of the forest for the trees by insisting on proving minor details that the Bible itself does not reveal.

Rather than quibbling over dates, the church would do better to focus on declaring the gospel message that “everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When we put our faith in Christ, we can celebrate at Christmas the mind-blowing reality that God came near to us as a fragile baby, born into poverty, yet entering the world to save us and give us life to the full. What a worthy reason to celebrate, even if we are unsure exactly when Jesus’ birth occurred!

The evidence strongly suggests that December 25th was chosen as Jesus’ birthday for symbolic reasons, to counter pagan festivals. But we cannot rule out the possibility that Jesus was actually born on December 25th either. Most scholars agree that Jesus was likely born in spring or fall. But in the end, we cannot pin down the date conclusively. God in his wisdom did not see fit to reveal this detail for us in Scripture. But we can still celebrate Immanuel, “God with us”, who humbled himself to be born as one of us to provide our salvation.


The exact day and year that Jesus was born remains uncertain, even after nearly two millennia of debate. The Bible does not record the date, though it provides some contextual clues. December 25th became popularized as Jesus’ birthday starting in the 4th century AD, though this was likely influenced by the Roman pagan festival Natalis Solis Invicti rather than historical evidence. Some scholars argue Jesus was born in the spring, based on biblical clues and the timing of Jewish festivals. But others contend he could have been born in any season. We may never know for sure when Jesus’ birth occurred.

But the joyful message of Christmas remains. God became man, entering our darkness to bring light and redemption. “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift! The exact date cannot contain the infinite wonder of the incarnation. Let us celebrate on Christmas the miracle of salvation through our Lord Jesus.

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