As I keep posting about, Christmas on December 25 is NOT due to there being a pagan holiday on that day. Repeat: Christmas is NOT based on the Roman festival of Sol Invictus. Substantial scholarship has shot down that theory, but we keep hearing it–in the press, in books that try to debunk Christianity, in churches that oppose following the church year, and even in some comments on this blog.
Now the authoritative Biblical Archaeology Review weighs in, citing more evidence debunking the pagan origin of Christmas myth, showing how it got started, and–most interestingly–tracing how the December 25 date did get set aside as the date of Jesus’s birth.
To put it simply, the date is nine months after the Feast of the Annunciation, celebrating the appearance of the angel to the Virgin Mary announcing her conception by the Holy Spirit. That date is March 25. The reason for that date is the belief that great prophets died on the date of their conception. We do know historically the date when Jesus died, since it is tied to the Jewish passover. The church determined that date to be March 25, before Good Friday and Easter became floating holidays that always fall on the weekends. The article in BAR cites how widely the attested in Jewish and rabbinic literature is the association between conception date and death date, and how this was also well known in the early church.
Please join me in correcting the myth of the pagan origins of Christmas whenever you hear it.
HT: Joe Carter