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The Kalends for Christmas

Comments (2)
  1. Avatar Pastor Kevin Yoakum says:

    This is just a friendly comment/question, not meant to provoke.

    1. How do we answer those who may balk at this because the emphasis on the date sounds like we’re trying to assert a particular date to be the birthdate of Christ? (My answer would be that this only proposes the year, not the day.)

    2. What are the origins of this? I’m just curious to where this can be traced to.

    Kevin Yoakum

    1. Avatar LCMS Church Information Center says:

      Dear Pastor Yoakum,

      Here are two Frequently Asked Question responses that may be helpful.

      The current system of dating by A.D. (anno domini=”in the year of the Lord”), based on the traditional year of the birth of Christ, was devised by a 6th century monk by the name of Dionysius Exiguus. It is now commonly held, however, that the actual birth was several years earlier, between 7 and 4 B.C., since it has been established that Herod the Great died (Mt 2:19) in 4 B.C.

      The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Third Edition, 1998) in its article on Christmas details the history of the dating of Christmas. The article points out that the time of Christ’s birth was a matter of speculation and even dispute in the early centuries of the Christian church. The celebration of Christ’s birth on a specific day did not become a general practice until the 4th century. The earliest mention of December 25 is in a calendar representing Roman practice of the year 336, the date probably chosen to oppose the pagan feast of the sun. Other traditions of the dating were present, including the Eastern tradition of connecting Christ’s birth with Epiphany on January 6 (a practice still followed in the Eastern churches).

      The Scriptures, of course, do not give us a precise date for Christ’s birth and therefore it must always remain a matter of conjecture. It is not a doctrinal matter.