Several years ago I attended a program at an observatory where I learned that Christmas, meaning the birth of Christ, mostly likely did not take place on December 25th. First of all, the calendars have changed over the eras. But more than likely the star the wise men followed appeared in the sky sometime during our month of March. So for centuries we’ve celebrated on the wrong date? Looking back it seems Christ’s birthday was not even celebrated for the first few hundred years after His death, according to this article.
If you are wondering how this happened, it’s not really that hard to uncover. From what I understand about church history, it was the practice of the church to take over pagan festivals and turn them into ones that have meaning for Christians. This likely happened with the observance of the winter solstice, the coming of light becomes the coming of Light.
So maybe Christmas is not really Jesus’ birthday. Does it matter? I don’t think so. What matters is that He was born.
My publisher gave me Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. It’s an advent devotional beautifully written with plenty of inspiring quotes I could pull out for you. Here is one: “Love had to get to you. Love had to come back for you. The Love that has been coming for you since the beginning…this is the truest love story of history…”
God With Us! Yes, the birth is important, life-changing, ground-breaking, startling. The actual date, not a big deal.
Why do we do it, then? Give presents, cook, wish every stranger a Merry Christmas (and really mean it, unlike the everyday “Have a nice day.”) Because of Him. Because God is with us. Because He lives in us and we see Him in the face of every stranger. That is the important thing about what happened when Jesus was born.