When was the first Christmas?

What does the Bible say about when Jesus was born? It’s all in Luke’s Gospel. And it starts with John the Baptist.

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The angel announces John’s conception on the day his father (one of the Temple priests) enters the Holy of Holies. That’s a once a year thing, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Following the Hebrew lunar calendar, that happens in late September/early October.

When Mary says yes to God, the angel says “BTW, John’s mother is 6 months pregnant.” That puts the conception of Jesus in late March/early April (tradition says March 25).

Add 9 months and Jesus is born in late December/early January.  

Which means that December 25 is definitely in the ballpark.

A lot of websites talk about the Emperor and/or the Pope picking December 25 when Christianity was legalized by the Roman Empire in the mid-300’s. With the idea being that December 25 was chosen to compete with pagan religions.

Actually, they were just recognizing a tradition that people were writing about in the early 200’s.

And those writers? They were writing about a tradition that dates from the generation of Christians after the Apostles. The same generation that Luke was part of (who wrote his Gospel sometime between 80-100).