When Was Jesus Born? — It is well-known among Biblical scholars that Jesus was not born in December because the shepherds were never out in the fields with their sheep at that time.
“There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”— Luke 2:8.
Shepherds always brought their sheep in from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed. (Also read Songs 2:11 and Ezra 10:9, 13.)
“It was an ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover [early spring], and bring them home at commencement of the first rain. During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As . . the first rain began early in the month of March, which answers to part of our October, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer.
“And, as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks [when Christ was born in Bethlehem], it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact . . See the quotations from the Talmudists in Lightfoot.”— Adam Clarke, Commentary, Vol. 5, 370.
The census of Caesar Augustus is mentioned in Luke 2:1-2, but historians are not certain when it was issued. But it is improbable that he would call for the citizens of the Roman Empire to return to their native homes, to be enrolled in the census in the middle of winter. Even his own armies avoided marching during the hazards of winter weather. Many authorities believe that Christ was born in the spring of the year; but, in the wisdom of God, the date of Christ’s birth has been hidden from us. Why, then, does all the world celebrate the birth of Christ — not merely in December — but on a certain day in December? We need to know :
(1) What is “Christmas?”
(2) How did Christmas get into the Christian church? and
(3) Why did it enter back in those early days?
Here are answers to these questions:
Christmas, Easter, and Halloween by Vance Ferrell