The Nativity of Christ: When Was Jesus Born?

Francesco Londonio Presepe.jpg

Presepe by Francesco Londonio, circa 1750

This is a guest post by Souptik Banerjee.

The Gospel of Mathew states that the Magi (a group of wise men) spotted a new star that cropped up in the sky and used it to trace the location of the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. They showered baby Jesus with gifts as they believed that the newborn was the “King of the Jews”. Using this proverbial star of Bethlehem as a clue, people have often tried to determine Jesus Christ’s birthday.

Two such studies are noteworthy. The first one was conducted by Colin J. Humphreys which was published in 1991 in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He suggests that the most probable year of Jesus’s birth was 5 BC. Around that time, Chinese astronomers had observed sui-hsing (star with a sweeping tail) in the Capricorn region of the sky. This must have been the comet which the Magi believed was the star of Bethlehem. Humphreys further concluded that the birth must have occurred between March 9 and May 4.

A more recent study has been made by an Australian astronomer Dave Reneke in 2008. He used a complex computer software to determine that the planets Venus and Jupiter came together to emit a single “beacon of light” in the summer of 2 BC. The exact date of this conjunction was the June 17.

It is said that the early Christians celebrated Easter as their most important festival. However, when the Roman emperor Constantine I embraced Christianity in 312 and the Romans picked it up from there. The Romans then merged the commemoration of the nativity of Christ with a popular pagan festival of the worshippers of the Romangod Saturn that spanned from December 17 to 25 every year to celebrate the “birthday of the unconquered sun” (natalis solis invicti) which what the Romans referred to as “winter solstice”. This gave rise to Christmas celebration on December 25.

No matter when Jesus was born and why we celebrate his birth on December 25, I wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

References

When was Jesus Born?

The Star of Bethlehem and the Dating of the Birth of Jesus

Cancel Christmas – Jesus was Born June 17, Say Scientists

Christ is Born?


Souptik Banerjee loves reading and writing. He blogs at raindried.wordpress.com.

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7 Responses to The Nativity of Christ: When Was Jesus Born?

  1. jmnowak says:

    Souptik, here’s a link I came across in my Reader which gives more interesting details on the subject: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129359521/posts/1658.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on A RAIN-DRIED NOTION and commented:
    Did a guest blog. The topic held my interest since childhood.

    Like

  3. Great information Edmark. We wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jfrels says:

    Our modern calendar didn’t come about until 1500 years or so later, so Dec 25 is as good as any other day and we kind of just get to take off the last week of the year this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Julian Calendar (the predecessor of the Gregorian calendar) is much similar to the modern calenda4 than you may think. The only difference between them is that the Julian calendar has a leap year every 4 years while the modern calendar doesn’t have leap years in years divisible by 100 except for years divisible by 400. So, 1900 wasn’t a leap year while 2000 was.

      This difference seems not that big of a deal but it’s actually quite profound. The Julian calendar gains 1 day every 128 years while it would take the Gregorian calendar 3030 years to gain 1 day. That’s a great improvement when it comes to accuracy

      Liked by 2 people

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