Good Question: Was Jesus Really Born In December?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In just four short days, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus. But was he really born in December?

Johan Van Parys is the Director of Liturgy at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. He says what Christians are actually celebrating is that Jesus became human. Van Parys believes that the shepherds who were present at Jesus’ birth may be evidence that Jesus could have been born a few months earlier.

“The shepherds would have been in the field in the spring until fall. So it’s likely that Jesus was born sometime in the fall, but there is no written documentation about it,” said Van Parys.

Why Dec. 25 then?

The Roman Empire first recognized “Sol Invictus,” also known as the “Celebration of the Invincible Son.”

“The invincible son celebration is when the sun starts to grow so it’s the beginning of winter solstice going into spring when the days become longer,” said Van Parys.

So, as we start to see more light, Christians see a symbol of light becoming victorious over darkness.

“So that might have been a reason why Jesus’ birth was celebrated on the 25th of December,” said Van Parys.

The ultimate Christmas symbol is the nativity scene. There are more than 200 of them from around the world at the Basilica. A woman in Austin, Minn. has more than 830 of them. If you are looking for the exact year Jesus Christ was born, however, you may find that’s even more of a mystery than his actual birthday.

“In the Gospel writings, there is no specific date as to which year exactly he was born and which year exactly did he died,” said Van Parys.

Van Parys said some early Christmas celebrations occurred on January 6, which is now known as the Feast of the Epiphany.

He says one thing we do know is that, according to tradition, Jesus was 33-years-old when he died.

More from John Lauritsen
  • where's my gift?

    Constantine chose this time of year to coincide with his edict that Rome would by law become Christian. He named the days of the week, moved the Sabbath to Sunday, and created Catholicism. He incorporated the pagan rituals.

    Catholics still do many pagan things, made up Purgatory and lied until people could read thanks to the printing press, which then caused the Reformation.

    Happy Christmas though. He is the Light and Life of the world.

    • keel

      Goodness! I assume your brand of “Christianity” doesn’t much care for Catholics. Actually, Constantine is revered by the Orthodox churches, not the Roman church as one would expect if, indeed, he had “created” Catholicism. The fact that many Christian holidays have as their basis pagan ones is hardly attributable to Constantine. As an example, the celebration of Easter is generally attributable to The Venerable Bede, (a monk of the 8th century…that’s about 400 years after Constantine), and his account of a pagan spring festival. Anyway, many more delights await you should you actually study something other than your Bible.

  • RalphMalph

    @where’s my gift: Whoever is feeding you these things is feeding you lies. A simple reading of an encyclopedia entry on Constantine will help you. There is no “Edict of Rome” and the “Edict of Milan” which is real only legalized Christianity. A later emperor Theodosius made Catholicism the official religion of the Roman Empire in the “Edict of Thessalonica”. The lies you believe don’t end there.

    Merry Christmas to you as well!

    • where's my gift

      Thanks for the clarification. However, the graven images, the dual male and female, the worship of Mary, etc… never came out of Judaism. It was manufactured.

      I apologize that I got the Papist history somewhat incorrect, however much of what I’ve said is true. Protestantism is based on throwing off the teachings of the Pope and the his Church. The lies they believe start “there”.

      • RalphMalph

        Well, someone has been teaching you things who has an axe to grind. Can you really believe what they say?

        Catholics don’t worship Mary, regardless of whatever anyone tells you. Though the word “purgatory” is not found in the Bible, the concept is found in several places, including 1 Cor. 3:10-15. Images are too hard to explain to you in this short reply, but in short the OT understanding was that none should /worship/ graven images /as if they were God/, which we do not do, as you see even God ordered creation of graven images: cherubim on the ark, the bronze serpent. I’m not sure what you mean by “the dual male and female”. Maybe you could explain more. There is evidence of Catholic worship on Sunday long previous to Constantine, as well as the Church being called Catholic previous to Constantine. He did not found the Catholic Church nor did he do anything to incorporate any pagan rituals; he had no authority to do so. Some things pagans did were seen through the lens of “test all things, keep what is good”. Paganism’s formality in worship and dress was seen as one of these “good” things. We believe that God has revealed himself even through those who do not know him explicitly, and incorporation of some things that other cultures did does not detract from the truth the Church protects, nor has it infected the morality that it proclaims.

        God Bless you.

        No doubt thought that Protestantism is based on throwing off the teachings of the Pope and the Catholic Church, you have that right.

        • where's my gift

          Why didn’t they ask Mormons about the origin?

          Why are the Catholics starting to have TV commericals saying that Jesus started their church. Why the propagnda, why now?

          The little man still on the stick, the statues, Mother Mary full of grace pray for me now and in the hour of my need (praying to Mary who’s dead)…

          Be Catholic. Let a man lead you. That’s fine. I’m not grinding an axe. I just don’t want this story to mislead people. In the end, when we stand side by side at Judegment (no purgatory), it will be what’s in our hearts. The rest will be history.

          I like your passion, just not the fabrication of a man made religion. Peace, I’m done.

          • markH

            “From a plurality of prime movers, the monotheists have bargained it down to a single one. They are getting ever nearer to the true, round figure.”
            ~Christopher Hitchens

  • Maybe

    Maybe not. Whoever he was, no one knows when he was born.

    Brought to you by SimpleAnswers to SimpleQuestions.

    • sad but true

      …..I know when, brought to you from the early 80’s….Old Spice presents, you make the call.

  • insignificant

    the christian Savior/(h)Eberew Messiah was born during the feast of trumpets,a huge birthday bash not known by the 1st century peoples living in the Roman province o’ Judea nor modern westernized assemblies in christianity,which corresponds to our solar gregorian sept/oct,depending when the new moon falls…winter solstice birth of the son/sun holidays go back to ancient old kingdom Babylonian sun-worship…check it out

    • insignificant

      sun-worship around winter solstice is /was about the gates/paths the sun appears to travel being at it’s lowest gate the 22nd , then a noticeable rise 3 days later,eh?…ofcoarse now we know that it is the Earth that moves and water flows from the Earth to sky…

  • Marc

    For a fact, the Christians stole Christmas. We don’t mind sharing it with them, but we don’t like this pretense of theirs that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun–Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. Christmas is a relic of sun worship.

    The customs of this time of year endure because they are pleasant customs. It’s fun to hear from distant family and friends, to gather, to feast, to sing. Gifts, as Robert Ingersoll once said, are evidences of friendship, of remembrance, of love.

    The evergreens displayed now as in centuries past flourish when all else seems dead, and are symbols, as is the returning sun, of enduring life.

    In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality.

    • Cassandra Morrison

      All hail Mithra! I’ll celebrate with YOU, my pagan friend…for he was born in a cave at midwinter I seem to recalll. You celebrate with me. Surely peace on earth and goodwill toward all is something we can relate to whatever religion we practice or don’t practice.

    • Crazy Joe

      I thought the Grinch stole Christmas, I was lied too again.

    • insignificant

      never was a fella named “Jesus “, from greek Iesous…in fact….no “J”‘s exsisted in the (h)Eberew nor the Greek

      • jackactionhero

        Yeshua was his name in his language, which was Aramaic.

        Although, technically, there is not one shred of scientific evidence to even suggest this person ever existed at all.

    • shwiehl

      What an eloquent explanation of how the Christians chose the Winter Solstice due to it’s powerful position in the astronomical universe! Happy Winter Solstice to you, Marc!

    • Carrie Nation

      I reject you reality and replace it with my own. Festivus for the Rest of Us! I plant my pole and am off to display my feats of strength. There, I have aired grievance!

  • insignificant

    see the priest in the video in his big fancy temple,eh?(doesn’t their scripture say the temple is us)?…these catholics are the mother of invention of many religious twisted concepts,rolled into one ball,and rolled all over the world …and ofcoarse the protestant sects are her daughters

  • Faithful up North

    Anyone familiar with the word “Faith”?

    • Cassandra Morrison

      Yes, faith is an action based upon a belief and supported by confidence. But the December 25th date isn’t a matter of faith. It isn’t Biblical. Don’t worry about it.

      • Harrison

        why does it matter what day or time that jesus was born, all thats matter is that he was born. However i’am thankful that his birth gave us an opportunity to believe and have eternal life. So i would say stop the fighting about his birth and start believing the effect that his birth has on our lives and the lives of our children. Born again Christian

  • ben

    Jesus was born during the “feast of tabernacle”, most likely in september. The sheperds were out then, and it coincided with Herods census (everyone came back home to celebrate the festival.. so it was ideal to do the census then). ALSO, that’s when the Jews expected the Messiah to show up on the scene… and he did!


    • Cassandra Morrison

      Feast of the Trumoets, actuallly but close.

  • EdMunzl

    The bigger question is how did “snow” and “white Christmas” ever have anything to do with the birth of a savior in the desert?

  • Gentile

    It’s make-belief that why it’s in December.

  • Catholic and proud of it

    Leave it to WCCHOE to call out Christianity in the days prior to the holiest days of the year. Of course also the day after it is annouced that the Shroud or Turin is real. OK all you haters, The Shroud is real proven by scientist, you know those guys that brought us global warming, then they must be right, right? Or are gloal warming scientists better than Shroud of Turin scientists?

    • maxey


      Better re-read whatever article you claim states that the shroud is proven authentic by scientists. Even the Vatican, which owns the thing, hasn’t made such a claim. There has been disagreement as to whether it is a medieval forgery. No one can prove, or even credibly claim, it has anything to do with Jesus. Glad you are proud, though. You must never have been molested.

      • science is all made up

        Those same scientists that disavowed and austracized the scientists that disagreed with them, are those the scientists you are referring to? What a great group of people, people that claim we as a people are responsible for something that has been taking place for thousands of years. Have we affected the changing cycles of the earth, yeah sure you betcha, but are we responsible for those cycles…. You would have to be pretty arrogant to make that statement.

        • J

          I like your Fox News talking point, but science isn’t scary. When you go to the doctor and get a new life saving treatment, have safe drinking water and food…thank a scientist. And the word is ostracized.

        • shwiehl

          Yeah, I guess you’d rather trust those Catholic priests.

    • J

      The markings on the shroud were proven to be made in a way that cannot be replicated by any know techniques. Now, if you want to extrapolate that to meaning it is “real” that’s fine. As far as global warming goes, it is the studied conclusion of nearly the entire community of scientists (even those hired by oil companies have come to the same conclusions). This is much different than a shroud being studied by one or two scientists. The scientific conclusions being made by a couple of scientists is not the same as an agreed conclusion of the science community. Not saying the conclusions the shroud scientists came to are false, just that the comparisons of the two are not the same.

      • J


  • What tha...

    You mean to tell me that Jesus was not born on December 25th. I am shocked, shocked I tells ya!! What infantile knothead thinks this is a story?

    • sad but true

      I hear ya. Next thing, your gonna hear something about woman created from a rib…or burning bushes….or parting of a sea…or returning a few days later…Where’s Darwin when you need him?

      • Cassandra Morrison

        Darwin is busy stealing Alfred Russell Wallace’s ideas…that’s where he is. And if you think a woman being created from a rib is impossible may I ask you where did Dolly the Sheep come from? It’s called cloning and the auth0or of Genesis knew zip about cells but creating a female from a male original would not be difficult (ever see JURASSIC PARK? Remember the explanation about why all the dinosaurs were FEMALE?)

        • It will be okay

          There, there, now. I was devastated too when I discovered the lies about my beloved Santa Clause. Age makes the recovery easier.

        • markH

          It’s frightening when we finally realize that there is no wizard behind the curtain and we must rely on ourselves.

    • Infantile Knothead

      I suppose you more fancy a story about how snow makes roads slippery.

  • Cassandra Morrison

    He was born in September and so what? We should celebrate His birth (in our hearts at least) every day of the year December 25th included.

  • Cassandra Morrison

    By the way. Van Parys is wrong. Jesus was born six months after John the Baptist. We know when John was born because we know what course his father belonged to in the priesthood and when he would have been serving when gabriel showed up to give him the news about John. It’s a bit of a hassle but it gives you a September birth date for Jesus. (By the way, John wasn’t born when the Catholic Church says he was, either. They set Jesus’ birth at December 25th and then had to set John The Baptist;s birthdate —instead of the other way around). So they ended up being wrong on both counts.

  • djp

    I shall remain a Pagan and dance “nekkid” in the woods!!!!

    • Patrick

      Now were are talking. Happy Holidays.

      • Crazy Joe

        Me too, it might be warm enough, nekkid nekkid really nekkid.

  • truth hurts

    September 11 3 A.D.

  • correction

    3 B.C.

  • devel

    It is all a bunch of BS because no one really knows anything for sure…….nothing……….

  • james2

    A poke at the Pope, that’s what w’re having. Would you trust your soul with this man now, would you?

    Don’t care when my Messiah was born, only care that he died for me, that he traded places with me for Life.

    Christmas is a national holiday in the USofA, give me my presents. HA!

  • Glenn Sonne

    Have any of you viewed the DVD The Bethlehem Star? It’s a serious Astronomical search for the Star of Bethlehem and it is quite intriguing. Clearly the 3 magus visiting could be when Jesus was a toddler… But the infant born in Bethlehem? There are good reasons to take it for exactly what it was. Try the DVD if you are a believer or a doubter… It’s a good one.

  • felice

    Religious holidays WERE dated on the same days as pagan holidays. NOT to celebrate the pagan rituals but to CHANGE the focus to religious/Christian celebrations.

  • JS

    I’m not normally a praying man, I have no tongue for it, but if you’re up there, please help us, Superman!

  • shwiehl

    I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these posts of pagans, agnostics, and atheists, and the right wing Christians have been refreshingly absent. I don’t even think anyone was damned to a lifetime in he%$ in this entire thread! Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Winter Solstice!

    • MN Atheist

      I damn you to hell.

    • Carrie Nation


  • just me

    Still the most talked about topic in all the World

  • markH

    The only question of any value (as I see the matter) is was Jesus actually born? The myth rises or falls on this question. Regardless of whether or not this figure actually existed (and know one knows for sure, they only CLAIM to know) we would do well to follow his command to love our fellow human beings and be kind to others-this injunction does not hinge on the existence of any being or entity. Peace.

    • jackactionhero

      There is no scientific evidence to suggest he existed at all.

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