We celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 each year, but is that really Jesus’ birthday?
Probably not. We celebrate Christmas on that day because Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, declared it in the year A.D. 320. Scholars believe he did this because Christians were already celebrating Christ’s birthday on that date, the Roman holiday Saturnalia, to avoid persecution.
In fact, the Bible may teach that Jesus was born on the first day of the Jewish festival called The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths). John 1:14 says Jesus came and “tabernacled” with us – literally “pitched his tent with us”. The Feast of Tabernacles was a Jewish holiday that celebrated “God coming and dwelling with us”. It begins on the Jewish date Tishri 15. It celebrates Moses’ building God a tent in the desert.
During this joyous, seven-day celebration, the Jews go outside and live in tents (booths) to remind them that God is with us and that this earth is not our true home.
The Feast of Tabernacles holiday is called the “Season of our Joy” and the Angel told the shepherds, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be to all people.” The holiday is also called “The Feast of Nations”, because it was to be celebrated by all peoples after the Messiah came.
In his book, The Birth of Yeshua During Sukkot, writer Eddie Chumney says the swaddling cloths that Mary wrapped Jesus in even give a clue. During the Feast of Tabernacles, strips of cloths were used to light the 16 vats of oil in the court of women. Even the word “manger” is the same word used for “booth” in the Old Testament. (Genesis 33:17)
The Bible says Jesus was circumcised on the “eighth day”. This was Jesus’ eighth day, yes, but it is also the name of a day on the calendar, called Shemini Atzeret, which is the day after the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. That’s why Chumney believes Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
But that’s not all. The Magi were probably Jews from Babylon who had remained there since Nebuchadnezzar captured them. They continued the Jewish traditions and during the Feast of Tabernacles would have stayed out in tents. The tents had a hole in the ceiling so you could see the star of the Messiah!
There’s even more evidence. The Bible says John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. Zecheriah, John the Baptist’s father, was in the division of Abijah. Chumney says they were in the temple in the 10th week of each Jewish year. You can add nine months from then and see that John the Baptist was born in the spring – during Passover. To this day, the Jews put a plate out for Elijah during their Passover dinner because he is prophesied to return before the Messiah. Jesus said John was the return of Elijah and fulfilled that prophecy when he was born.
Also, shepherds slept out with their sheep during lambing season – spring and fall, not winter.
If all of this is true, Jesus was born on Tishri 15, 1 B.C. Why the year 1 B.C.? Because Luke says Jesus turned 30 15 years after the Coronation of Tiberius Caesar which was on August 19, of A.D. 14 (Luke 3:1). Further, new evidence has proven that Quirinus was governor in Syria until 1 B.C. When Ukranian Monk Dionysius Exignus set the calendar we still use, he used the January after Jesus’ birth as 1 A.D. (There is no year zero.)
Scholars have long stated that Jesus must have been born between 6 and 4 B.C. because of writings from Jewish historian Josephus stating that an eclipse occurred shortly before the death of Herod the Great. Now we know that another eclipse occurred on Dec. 29 of 1 B.C. Many scholars now believe Herod died sometime in 1 or 2 A.D.
When, then, is Jesus’ real birthday? According to a Jewish calendar conversion program, he was born on Saturday, Sept. 30, 1 B.C.
It being Friday and me testing my new podmaker with decent coffee for my Melitta pod machine, I poked around the internet for other suggestions for the 'real date' of Jesus' birth. So here's the beginning of a list:
September 29, 5 B.C.
Some time in April of 5 B.C.