How did December 25 get to be Christmas Day?

Scholars attempted to calculate an exact date for the Nativity of the Lord, but it was deemed impossible. (There was/is not enough information available to determine this.) So originally, March 25 was discussed as an appropriate day to celebrate the birth of Christ to coincide with the rebirth of spring. However, other scholars noted that this would be a better day to place Jesus’ conception, as we believe that God becomes incarnate at the moment he is in Mary’s womb.

Therefore, if we add nine months to that date we get … December 25!

Secondarily, many Romans were sun worshipers and celebrated a kind of sun feast day on December 25, while others note a virility god named Mithra with the same birthday. Romans also observed a debaucherous time of year called Saturnalia December 17-23. Thus, celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 would counter pagan holidays.

In 336, the Emperor Constantine officially named the “birthday of Christ” December 25.

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded BustedHalo.com in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."