The first date listed, December 25, is marked: In about 400 C.E., Augustine of Hippo mentions a local dissident Christian group, the Donatists, who apparently kept Christmas festivals on December 25, but refused to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6, regarding it as an innovation.The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season; in the cold month of December, on the other hand, sheep might well have been corralled. 165–264) goes so far as to mock Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries, dismissing them as “pagan” practices—a strong indication that Jesus’ birth was not marked with similar festivities at that place and time.
The earliest writings—Paul and Mark—make no mention of Jesus’ birth.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide well-known but quite different accounts of the event—although neither specifies a date. E., further details of Jesus’ birth and childhood are related in apocryphal writings such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-Gospel of James.
So, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, we finally find people observing his birth in mid-winter.
But how had they settled on the dates December 25 and January 6?
And treating of His Passion, with very great accuracy, some say that it took place in the 16th year of Tiberius, on the 25th of Phamenoth [March 21]; and others on the 25th of Pharmuthi [April 21] and others say that on the 19th of Pharmuthi [April 15] the Savior suffered.
Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21].” Clearly there was great uncertainty, but also a considerable amount of interest, in dating Jesus’ birth in the late second century.We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.A blanket of snow covers the little town of Bethlehem, in Pieter Bruegel’s oil painting from 1566.These texts provide everything from the names of Jesus’ grandparents to the details of his education—but not the date of his birth. E., a Christian teacher in Egypt makes reference to the date Jesus was born.According to Clement of Alexandria, several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups.The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.