Nativity of Christ is one of the main Christian holidays, established in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary. The first reports of the celebration of this date date back to the middle of the 4th century.
In our country, this holiday is one of the most beloved, part of a series of New Year's festivities. Therefore, we will debunk the main myths about Christmas.
Jesus was born in a cave. This fact is even sung in one of their Christian hymns. However, let's try to figure out how true this is. First of all, Luke does not mention anything about the cave and the stable, who only says that Joseph and Mary did not find a place in the hotel. In this case, a word is used that literally means "living quarters", without implying a hotel. By the same word, by the way, Mark and Luke call the dining room or the room for the Last Supper, but the inn had a different name. It can be assumed that Joseph and Mary, together with their relatives in Bethlehem, owned joint real estate, in connection with the census, many people gathered, and the woman in childbirth was nobly allocated a separate room. Luke himself says that there were other people next to the baby: "When they saw, they told about what was announced to them about this Child. And all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them." At the same time, we are not talking about Mary, which will be discussed later separately, therefore, most likely there were relatives nearby, who gave the woman in labor a separate room. There are also opinions that the talk was generally about a caravanserai, in which living rooms were adjacent to the premises for livestock. It is possible that the birthplace of the baby was not even a barn, but a room where the cattle were fed.
Three wise men came to bow to the baby. Later, even the names of these wise men appeared - Kaspar, Melchior and Belshazzar. It is a common mistake to think that the Bible says this, in particular about their number. Usually, the assumption of the three wise men is based on the number of gifts that they presented - gold, incense and myrrh. But to draw conclusions from this hastily, since logic suggests that the group of eastern guests should have been more numerous. The long journey required a solid caravan and numerous guards.
The shepherds and the wise men worshiped Jesus at the same time in Bethlehem. This fact is evidenced by many Christmas carols, postcards, performances. However, the Magi most likely came to worship Christ much later. First, Luke says nothing about the wise men, while Matthew says nothing about the shepherds. Second, after forty days of purification, Mary sacrificed pigeons in the temple. This was a testament to her poverty, as the woman could not bring the lamb that was due. However, if by that time the Magi had visited her, then Mary would have received gold, myrrh and incense and would have been able to perform the ceremony as expected. Thirdly, the Magi saw a star that lit up at the moment of the birth of the baby Jesus, but they also needed time to get ready and travel. And the journey from the East was not short, even if we assume that it was Babylon, the distance was more than 1200 kilometers. So such a trip could take at least a year. Luke says that the family soon returned with the child to Nazareth, while Matthew writes that Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem, although the wise men followed the lit star. Consequently, the wise men did not get to Bethlehem, having come to Nazareth.
The star led the wise men continuously from the east to Nazareth. It is necessary to delve a little into the linguistic subtleties. Matthew writes: "They saw his star in the east", using the aoric form of the verb, which means a completed action in the past tense. Seeing the star, the wise men went to Judea, and since a king was about to be born, it is quite obvious that they visited Jerusalem. If the star would lead the wise men all the way, then why would they go to the capital to Herod, asking him about the newborn? After Herod, alarmed, sent the Magi to Bethlehem, the star appeared again, now leading the Magi to Bethlehem.
The massacre of infants in Bethlehem was accompanied by mass casualties. Skeptics and atheists often wonder why ancient historians do not mention anything about the massacre of babies in Bethlehem? Orthodox sources say that from 14 to 140 thousand babies were tortured. However, such a fact could hardly be true. Historians meticulously noted that the population of Bethlehem at that time ranged from 300 to 1000 people, taking into account the birth rate, it can be calculated that boys under two years old could not, in principle, be more than 20. From 12 to 20 babies were killed. Where did this myth come from? Matthew quotes Jeremiah's words about "a great cry." But it is important to understand that the cry was not because of the huge number of victims, but, in principle, because of the severity of maternal losses, women could not otherwise grieve for the dead children. Historians generally omit the fact of Herod's beating of babies, since in the history of this king there were enough other atrocities of a larger scale. Unfortunately, this is how history works, for a mother the death of a child is the greatest tragedy, and for historians it is not even a tragedy ...
Jesus was born in the first year from Christmas, from this date the calendar is kept. It would seem that this statement, in principle, cannot be refuted, it is from the birth of Christ that the modern chronology is kept. However, evidence in the Bible and outside it suggests that Jesus may have been born a few years earlier, presumably 4-6 years. The fact is that, in accordance with the Gospels, King Herod was alive at the time of the birth of Christ, and historians have clearly proved that Herod died in April 4 years before the birth of Christ. Jesus was born at least a year before the death of the king, this fact is based on the idea that Herod ordered to kill babies up to two years old, therefore he imagined that Christ was born somewhere in this interval. This is how the date of the approximate birth of Jesus appears - 4-5 years before the birth of Christ, no matter how paradoxical it sounds. Some sources say that the notorious star in the sky could be Halley's comet, which passed over the Earth in 12 BC, it is curious that the only known census at that time in Judea was carried out in 7 BC, namely the census pushed Joseph and Mary on a journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas couldn't happen in winter. Many began to argue that Christmas, in principle, could not happen in winter, as shepherds do not graze sheep in the field at this time of year. But one can argue with this, firstly, the winter could be mild, and secondly, it is not known for sure that the sheep were in shelter in winter, and thirdly, there is a mention in the Talmud that around Bethlehem the sheep were in the air all year round. Yes, and you can calculate the indication of the time of the birth of Christ using the date of birth of John the Baptist, who was six months older than Jesus, as mentioned by Luke. The Bible researchers found out that the news of the conception of a son, Zacharias, received about September-October according to our calendar, therefore, Mary conceived a child around March, and Christmas happened in December. The exact day, of course, is impossible to find out, but the celebration at this time of the year is quite justified.
Orthodox and Catholic Christmas is celebrated on different days. Often in our media it is mentioned about Catholic Christmas, which is celebrated for some reason on December 25, and not January 7, like the Orthodox. However, any educated person knows that both Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate the holiday on the same day - December 25. Only here Christmas is celebrated everywhere according to the Gregorian calendar, according to which everyone lives, and in Russia - according to the Julian, or "old style". According to the old, December 25 falls on the current January 7, which is why we celebrate the Old New Year on January 14 in a new style. Once upon a time, December 25 was the day of the winter solstice, perhaps it is no coincidence that the celebration of Christmas was associated with this day, as if reminding us that Christ is the Sun of Truth. Through the centuries, the solstice day shifted to December 21, and the holiday remained on December 25. It should be noted that the Winter Solstice Day has been celebrated since ancient times by many peoples and cultures. Even in the Roman Empire, there was a birthday of the Sun. It is no coincidence that the fathers of the Christian church chose this particular date to celebrate the birth of God, since it would be customary for new believers to celebrate the festival on this day. The final and formal decision to celebrate Christmas on December 25 was made by the Third Ecumenical Council in 431.
Christmas began to be celebrated immediately. The first Christians were Jews and did not celebrate Christmas, since the Jewish doctrine considers birth as the beginning of the path of sorrow and pain. Therefore, the first Christians did not celebrate Christmas at all, giving more attention to another holiday - the Resurrection of Christ or Easter. Gradually, the Greeks and other Hellenes joined the Christians, under their influence, and began to celebrate Christmas.