Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The birth of Jesus is mentioned in two of Christianity’s four canonical gospels, but the birthdate of an historical Jesus is unknown. Some historians place it between 7 and 2 BCE, though few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day or year in which Jesus was born. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian church had placed Christmas on December 25. The reason for this remains obscure, but most researchers believe Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for Roman/pagan celebrations at the winter solstice (the natalis solis invicti). The date also occurs nine months after the spring equinox, at which both the world and Jesus were believed to have been conceived. Pictured: “The Nativity,” Sandro Botticelli, 1490.