The Surprising Reason Why Christmas Is Celebrated on December 25

Contrary to popular belief, it's not actually Jesus's birthday.

A nativity scene for Christmas
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For many, Christmas brings about lavishly decorated storefronts, religious services, celebrations with family and friends, and, of course, presents galore. People pray, sing, dance, and exchange gifts on the days leading up to Christmas in order to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—and yet, what most people don't even realize is that December 25 isn't actually Jesus's birthday.

The Bible gives a modest yet detailed account of Jesus Christ's birth: He was born in a barn surrounded by farm animals, shepherds, and angels. Within these recordings of Jesus's birth, though, there is not a single mention of a specific date nor a set time of year, according to the Biblical Archaeology Society.

In the earlier years of Christianity (before 200 A.D.), Jesus's birth was not even considered significant enough to be celebrated. An early Christian scholar named Origen of Alexandria went as far as to mock the Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries, calling them "pagan" practices.

And when people did start to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ years later, December 25 was not even the first date that they chose to do so on. As Britannica explains, people originally thought Jesus was born on January 6. Other dates that were considered were May 20, April 18, April 19, May 28, January 2, November 17, November 20, March 21, and March 25, according to Christianity TodayEventually, after much deliberation, Pope Julius I landed on December 25 as the date of Jesus' birth in the middle of the third century.

Was December 25 the chosen date of our Christmas celebrations due to Biblical proof? Not quite. Rather, according to History, the church chose this date in an effort to replace the pagan festival held on the same day: the Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom of celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 eventually spread from Egypt to England, and thus Jesus's birthdate was all but set in stone.

However, not everyone sees December 25 as Jesus's day of birth. According to Euro News, most Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7 in accordance with the old Julian calendar.

So, the bottom line is, it's not for certain when Christ was born—even though "Silent Night" had us believing it was December 25 for all these years! And if you want to discover even more about Christmas, check out the 30 American Christmas Traditions Even You Didn't Know About.

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