Christ’s birthday is celebrated by Christians on December 25th, but is widely believed by theologians that this is a purely nominal date – Jesus was probably born at some other time in the year (assuming He existed in the first place). Why then has December 25th been picked for the date of Christmas?
One rather superficial answer which has been bandied about so much it has become a cliché is that it is apparently the same day as when the Persian god Mithras was born. This a lot of neo-pagans trot out, smugly thinking that Christianity is just an agglomeration of other religions’ feast days.
Guys! There is just as much proof that Mithras was born on December 25th as Jesus was! I.e. none whatsoever. The priests of the Mithraic religion chose December 25th for much the same reasons as Christians later did for Jesus – not because it was his actual birthday, but because the date itself has symbolic significance.
We are getting closer to the truth when we note that Yule – the Winter Solstice – occurs two to three days before Christmas. So why is not Christmas celebrated actually on the Solstice itself? In ancient times people did not have calculators, or telescopes, or accurate time-pieces. They were not able to work out the precise moment the Sun turns north again, and they had to rely on the evidence of their five senses. The reason December 25th was chosen arbitrarily is that it is the first day after the Winter Solstice when the increase in the amount of daylight can be noticed. Thus it was quite natural for ancient people of all religions to hold Solstitial celebrations on the 25th rather than the technical Solstice a few days beforehand.
The question then arises: why did Christians choose the feast of the Winter Solstice as Christ’s birthday, as opposed to, say, one of the other Pagan feast-days? The answer is that it can be explained astrologically. When the date for Christmas was set, it was well known that human gestation lasted 9 months. Therefore, the question asked was not “When would Christ have been born?” but “When would He have been conceived?”
Counting back from Christmas Day, we get to March 25th or thereabouts – which is known in the Christian Church as “Lady Day” or the Feast of the Annunciation. Obviously it is the approximate date of the Vernal Equinox (March 23rd), and, dare I say it, would actually have been the date that ancient peoples would have celebrated the Equinox, for much the same reasons that the Winter Solstice would have been celebrated on December 25th – i.e. “Lady Day” would be the first day on which the length of the day was noticeably longer than the night-time.
“Lady Day” (or the Vernal Equinox) being the day when Christ was conceived is significant because it is when the Sun enters Aries – a very appropriate zodiacal sign, as it brings to mind Jesus’ associations with “the Lamb of God”.
But more than this, Aries is the sign of Cardinal Fire. Now as Qabalists know, Fire is represented in the Hebrew alphabet by Shin, which shares the same gematria as “Ruach Elohim”, the “spirit of God” – or Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that the letter Shin is commonly used to represent the idea of Spirit in certain qabalistic words and phrases: e.g. YHVH (God) + Sh (Holy Spirit) = YHShVH (Yeheshuah i.e.
Now again, some commentators mistakenly confuse the Vernal Equinox with Easter, thinking that because they occur so close to one another they must be the same. However, this is not the case. Easter is specifically not the feast of the Equinox – it marks the first Full Moon after the Equinox. There is a bloody good reason why the Luna influence is important. Easter would have been the symbolic date that Mary first realised she really was pregnant. So once again, we have people celebrating events not on the technical day on which they are calculated to have occurred, but on the first occasion thereafter when it was possible to ascertain by non-technical means.
Therefore, the date of Christ’s conception was determined fit in with the Equinox (or Easter) because:
• Easter is the Christian celebration of the Dying God being reborn (like the Sun), and is thus a celebration of new life being brought to the Earth;
• The Sun entering Aries signifies the rousing to action of the Holy Spirit / Ruach Elohim, through its associations with Fire. Moreover, because this happens contemporaneously with Easter, the implication is that it is the Holy Spirit which is responsible for the new life in spring time;
• Hence it is appropriate that Mary the Mother of God, via the Holy Spirit, should conceive at the time of the Vernal Equinox, which itself is associated therewith: the idea of the ecclesiast being that the Holy Spirit creates new life in the Earth, and in Mary herself.
Or to put it another way, Jesus’ conception was figured as taking place around the same time of year as, many years later, He would die and be reborn. So not only is it inevitable that Jesus should be thought of as being born on December 25th, but also that the time of His death and resurrection is thought of occurring roundabout Easter time.