By Sam Eyoboka, with Agency reports
THE origin of Christmas differs as the precise date of the birth and historicity of Jesus are much debated. Christmas, literally meaning the Mass of Christ, is a traditional holiday in the Christian calendar.
The festival of Christmas takes place on 25th December, every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christmas is also celebrated as a secular holiday throughout the world, including countries with small Christian populations like India. Various theories of the origin of Christmas exist that give a clear insight into the celebration of Christmas.
Date Of Christmas
Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in all Christian churches including Eastern Rite, Roman & Protestant. Since most Eastern Orthodox churches have not accepted either the Gregorian calendar or the Revised Julian Calendar reforms, December 25 will fall on the civil date of January 7 for the years from 1900 to 2099. It is believed that the nativity was set on December 25th by a Roman bishop around the third century A.D.
The roots of Christmas
Christmas is from Christes Maesse, which means Christ Mass. It is referred that during the 4th century, the celebration of Christâ€™s birth on December 25 was gradually adopted by most Eastern churches. In Jerusalem, opposition to Christmas lasted longer as according to them the exact date of birth of Jesus Christ is unknown. It is said that December 17-24th was the period of Saturnalia, a well-known festival in pagan, Rome. December 25th was the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light. This day was adopted by the church as Christmas to counteract the effects of these festivals.
Though the true origin of Christmas is filled with controversy and compromise, today, Christmas has turned out to be one of the most popular festival that fills joy, happiness and love in peopleâ€™s life. The festival of Christmas has absorbed various customs and traditions of world and 25th December has emerged as the most important day for Christians, irrespective of its roots. It is taken as a day that reflects the power, glory and salvation of Jesus Christ and his message of hope to the world.
Various Theories Of The origin of Christmas
As the origin of Christmas has been a debatable issue, various theories have been suggested, supporting the date of 25th December as the birth of Jesus. Few of them are:
Roman festival of Saturnalia
It is an appropriation by early Christians of a day on which the birth of several pagan gods, Osiris, Jupiter, and Plutus, or the ancient deified leader Nimrod, was celebrated. It is an appropriation of the Roman festival of the birth of Unconquered Sun, celebrated on the day after the winter solstice, or the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Jewish Festival of Lights
It derives from the tradition that Jesus was born during the Jewish Festival of Lights that falls on 25th December.
Date of Good Friday
The date of Christmas is based on the date of Good Friday, the day Jesus died. Since the exact date of Jesusâ€™ death is not stated in the Gospels, early Christians sought to calculate it, and arrived at either March 25 or April 6. Then, wishing to calculate Jesusâ€™ birthday, they followed the ancient idea that Old Testament prophets died either on anniversary of their birth or of their conception.
In Jesusâ€™ case, they reasoned that he died on an anniversary of the Incarnation so the date of his birth would have been nine months after the date of Good Friday-either December 25 or January 6. The date of 25th December became popular.
Several church organisations are now opposed to the December date of birth with some saying, Christ seems to have been born around the Feast of Tabernacles (September/October) in the period from 8 to 5 BCE.
According to Biblical account there were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flock at night at the time Christ was born (Luke 2:8). This could not have been possible in December, as there were no sheep in the fields then. It would have been about the ninth month in the lunar calendar and the Bible also says it was a cold and rainy time of the year in that part of the world (Ezra 10:9).
December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus Christ. The apostles and early Christian Church did not celebrate the birthday of Christ at any time. The Bible does not tell us exactly when Christ was born and there is no instruction to celebrate his birth anyway.
A wholly Nigerian church organisation, the Godâ€™s Kingdom Society, GKS,Â had been making frantic efforts to rewrite history by debunking claims that Jesus Christ was not born in December saying that it will be wrong for the Church to accept such fallacy when there are documetary evidence to prove a possible date of birth.
In a recent interview, GKS president, Brother Emmanuel Aighalua said Christmas is spiritual fraud, adding that December 25 has no spiritual significance for true Christians in that it is not the date of Christâ€™s birth. Rather, it is the date of a notorious pagan festival which the orthodox Churches took on and baptized. Scholars very well know that it was in order to win gentile converts to the Christian faith that the Roman Catholic Church, more than three centuries after the apostolic era, adopted this ancient pagan festival in honour of the sun god and renamed it Christmas with the mind of winning them to Christianity.
The Bible, ecclesiastical and profane history and the geographical features of Palestine show that Christ could not have been born in December.
According to the book, The True Bible Code published in Britain in 2000: â€œThere is nothing â€˜Christianâ€™ about Christmas. Christmas is basically and essentially Pagan Christmas as well as Easter, Halloween, and Mardi Gras. Each of them has come to us from ancient Babylon, through Rome. It was for this very reason that in Calvinâ€™s Geneva, you could have been imprisoned for observing Christmas.â€
It is on record that at the request of the Westminster Assembly, the English Parliament in 1644 passed an act forbidding the observance of Christmas, calling it a heathen holiday. The General Court of Massachusetts decreed punishment for those who kept the season stating that, â€œanyone who is found observing, by abstinence from labour, feasting or in any other way, any such days as Christmas Day will pay for every such offence five shillings.â€
The Holy Bible shows clearly that Jesus Christ was born in the month of October.
The fact that the churches of Christendom observe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in April, confirms that his birth could not have taken place in December. Of a truth, he was killed in April, which is Nisan or Abib, the first month of the Jewish year, when the Feast of Passover or Unleavened Bread was celebrated.
We all agree that Jesus Christ lived for 33 1/2 years. Now let us admit that he was born in December as the churches teach, it will mean, therefore, that his 33rd birthday anniversary fell on December, and six months later, which was June, he died. If it was so, why then are the churches celebrating his death in April and not in June?
The plain truth is that he was born in October. His 33rd birthday then fell on October, and six months later, that is, in June, he was slain. Also, Zecharias the Priest officiated in the eight course which falls in the fourth monthy of the Jews known as Tammuz which answers to be latter June and early July.
He finished his officiation in early July after which his wife conceived. In the sixth month of her conception, the Angel announced to Mary that she will conceive and bear Jesus Christ and her cousin Elizabeth acknowledged in her inspired declaration when she visited her in early January that she was pregnant, calling her â€œthe mother of my lordâ€.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, from January to March, meaning that Elizabethâ€™s pregnancy was then nine months, and went back to her house. Since the span of foetal life is nine months with delivery taking place in the tenth month, it follows that by the tenth month, April, Elizabeth was due to deliver and she brought forth John.