9 Christmas Legends and the Truths from the Bible
1. The Bible Says That Jesus Was Born On December 25th
It’s the age-old question, “Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday?” The answer is that we really don’t know when His actual birthday was. The Bible doesn’t tell us an exact date. So, it begs the question, “How did Christmas land on December 25th”? Some historians believe that it was a Christian reaction to a Roman pagan holiday, while others believe the date is a response to the traditional date of Jesus’ crucifixion in March. Honestly, we don’t really know when Jesus was born, however, two things are certain – Jesus was born of a virgin, and the Bible doesn’t give us an exact date. For my money, I’m siding with Dr. Alfred Edersheim, noted Hebrew Christian scholar. He thoroughly researched the date of the birth of Jesus the Messiah and came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed born on December 25th.
2. The Bible Says Mary Rode into Bethlehem on a Donkey
An extremely pregnant Mary riding into town on a donkey is definitely a common legend most Christians believe is in the Bible. Now, she very well could have made the 65-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey. Nevertheless, the account of this story, in Luke 2:1 – 6, does not specifically teach this. Nevertheless, we all should consider how tough Mary was to make this trip while being pregnant, because most of us men can’t get out of bed if we have the common cold. Finally, consider the providential timing of Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem. They had to hear the decree from Caesar Augustus to travel to Bethlehem, travel to Bethlehem not too soon or too late (couldn’t have Jesus born along the way) so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem to fulfil the prophecy of Micah 5:2 that says He would be born in Bethlehem Ephratha (BTW did you know that there are 2 Bethlehems mentioned in the Bible? Yep, one in Galilee in the north and one in Judea in the south. The Bethlehem Ephratha is the Bethlehem in the south and that’s the one in which Messiah was to be born.). Amazing!
3. The Bible Says There Were 3 Wisemen
One of the most popular Christmas carols, “We Three Kings,” shows the commonality of this particular legend. The Gospel of Matthew describes these men as magi (the root for our word magician) or wise men not kings. They most probably were astrologers from Babylon who studied the stars and constellations. People commonly think there were three in number, because the Bible details the fact that they brought three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. But, this doesn’t mean there were three magi; there could just as easily have been four, eight, or 10. An interesting side note is the gold, frankincense, and myrrh were used to sustain Joseph, Mary, and Jesus during their time in Egypt.
4. The Bible Says a Star Hovered Over the Manger
You’d be hard-pressed to find a nativity scene that doesn’t include a bright shining star hovering above it. It’s definitely a nice sentiment and symbol. The problem is there’s no reference to this in Gospels. The magi were given a star that first led them to Jerusalem (Matthew 2:1 – 2), then on to Bethlehem (v. 9 -10) where they found the child who was now living in a house in Bethlehem. In jealousy, King Herod gave a command that all babies in the region younger than 2-years-old were to be killed (v. 16). This suggests that Jesus had been in Bethlehem for some time at this point, so neither the wise men nor the star, were hovering over the manger the night Jesus was born.
5. The Bible Says Jesus Was Born In a Barn or Stable
Just about every nativity set places the baby Jesus in a stable, surrounded by animals. Once again, this is an assumption because the Bible does not specify this. The Scriptures actually say, “And she gave birth… and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).” It’s easy to assume that Jesus was born in a barn or stable, because of the manger mention. A manger is a feeding trough for animals. However, these feeding troughs were also commonly used inside homes, because families would sleep upstairs while small animals were kept downstairs on cold nights. Archaeology has also discovered mangers (feeding troughs) in caves which served as shelter for animals. Jesus could have been born in a cave in Bethlehem and was buried in a cave in Jerusalem.
6. The Bible Says There Was A Little Drummer Boy
A little drummer boy playing his drum – pum pum pum pum. That’s what all first-time parents want, right? Mary and Joseph haven’t had any sleep. The birthing arrangements and location haven’t been ideal, but yes, please come play your drum for my newborn baby boy. Just make sure you play it as loud as humanly possible. It doesn’t make much sense, and there is no account of this ever happening.
7. The Bible Says Jesus Was Born In 0 A.D.
“B. C.” stands for “before Christ”, and “A. D.” stands for a Latin phrase anno domini; which means “in the year of the Lord.” However, according to Matthew 2:1, Jesus was born during the days of Herod the king. Most historians place Herod’s death at 4 B. C. With Herod ordering all boys 2-years old and younger in the area to be killed before his own death. It seems as though a more proper estimate of Jesus birth would have sometime between 4 B. C. and 6 B. C. Since Jesus couldn’t have become a rabbi until He was 30 years of age, His 3 year ministry most likely spanned from A.D. 26-28.
8. Saying Merry X-mas Is “Taking Christ Out Of Christmas”
Over the last decade or so, many Christians have felt like there was a “War on Christmas.” Some believers see the phrase, “Merry Xmas”, as an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Although, some people may be deliberate in their attempts to do that, the statement by itself is not offensive. The first letter in the Greek word for “Christ” is chi. In the Roman alphabet, chi is represented by the symbol X. Therefore, Xians don’t have to be flustered by hearing or seeing, “Merry Xmas!”
9. Saying Happy Holidays Is “Taking Christ Out Of Christmas”
This statement may be an attempt at being “politically correct.” However, holiday literally means, “holy day”. Celebrating the birth of Jesus definitely makes it a holy day. Thankfully, because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus; everyday can be a happy holy-day. To the believer, Christmas shouldn’t be a one-day celebration, but rather, a lifestyle of celebrating the truth that Jesus is Immanuel – God with us.