Why December 25th? Christus Invictus!

December 5, 2016 Randy Bushey

wooden-calendar-1416617by Randy Bushey, Dec.5, 2016

Ever wonder why we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th??

Yup, the cynics are correct: because it was the date of a pagan festival.

I can hear some of you thinking out loud, “and that’s why Christians shouldn’t observe Christmas.”

But that may be half-baked conclusion.

Here’s why: good historical evidence suggests that the early Christians were more thoughtful and intentional in their commitment to truth than we sometimes give them credit for.

We don’t know the date of Jesus’ birth, but we can be pretty sure it was not in late December. In the ancient world, shepherds could be found in the fields 24/7 from the end of April and into November. After that it was just too cold.

So why December 25th?

In the Roman Empire sol invictus  was the Latin term for “the invincible sun”, thought in pagan circles to be the highest deity. During the winter solstice, sun worshipers came together, celebrating with huge bonfires to replicate the light of the sun.

The zenith of that gala was December 25th.

In that era, Christ-followers commonly celebrated the birth of the Saviour late in the first week of January. Then they intentionally moved Christmas to December 25th in the 4th century.

But far from caving to social pressure and compromising their principles, these robust followers of Christ did exactly the opposite.

The Roman Empire believers observed the Incarnation of God on the same day their pagan neighbours stoked their bonfires – not to syncretise the observance of the birth of the Saviour with the pagan worship of the sun – but to emphasize Christ’s transcendent authority and sovereignty over the it.

The Invincible Christ! Christus Invictus.

Takeaway: as a followers of Jesus more than the birth of the Baby, let’s celebrate the Incarnation of God, Emmanuel, God with us! May we have the courage to proclaim to a sin-weary world, Christus Invictus.

~ blog originally posted December 2012.

graphic by Rositsa Jeliazkova, freeimages.com