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The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem.The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.On December 25, Christians around the world will gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth.Joyful carols, special liturgies, brightly wrapped gifts, festive foods—these all characterize the feast today, at least in the northern hemisphere. How did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday?Jesus is crucified the next morning—still, the 15th.Easter, a much earlier development than Christmas, was simply the gradual Christian reinterpretation of Passover in terms of Jesus’ Passion.But how had they settled on the dates December 25 and January 6?There are two theories today: one extremely popular, the other less often heard outside scholarly circles (though far more ancient).
So, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, we finally find people observing his birth in mid-winter.
According to Clement of Alexandria, several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups.
Surprising as it may seem, Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all.
E., when the apocryphal text known as the Epistle to the Apostles has Jesus instruct his disciples to “make commemoration of [his] death, that is, the Passover.” Jesus’ ministry, miracles, Passion and Resurrection were often of most interest to first- and early-second-century C. We can begin to see this shift already in the New Testament.
The earliest writings—Paul and Mark—make no mention of Jesus’ birth.