7 Myths About Christmas
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Myth 1 – Jesus was born on 25th of December, which is Christmas Day
Jesus couldn’t have been born on Christmas Day, which would have been winter in Bethlehem. The Bible says that the shepherds were still on the field when an angel called them. If this happened in winter, they wouldn’t be out in the fields! Scholars speculated that Jesus was probably born in late summer or fall.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:8-9)
Myth 2 – Three shepherds visited Jesus after he was born.
The Bible did not say how many shepherds visited Jesus. In those days, shepherds were seen as lowly by other people. And so it’s nice to know that the angel appeared to them and they were the first people to see the baby Jesus!
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby... (Luke 2:8)
Myth 3 – Joseph and Mary were turned away by innkeepers when they arrived in Bethlehem.
There is no mention of innkeepers in the Bible. This has to do with a wrong translation of the Greek word, kataluma. Scholars now believe that the word referred to the ‘guest room’ of a person’s home. The same word was used to describe the room where Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples.
What likely happened was that Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem to stay in the home of Joseph’s relatives.
Besides, the people of those days treasured family ties a lot. So it is very unlikely that they would turn away Mary who was pregnant.
Myth 4. Joseph and Mary had to stay a stable with animals.
The Bible did not say that baby Jesus was born in a stable! The Bible said that he was placed in a manger, which was a feeding box for animals.
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (Luke 2:7)
So how did Jesus end up in a manger? Historians dug out homes of those days and found that people lived in homes with many levels. The guest rooms were on the upper level. And it was common for people to own a few animals and kept them at the bottom level at night.
Joseph and Mary probably had to stay at the bottom level because the guest rooms were full of relatives. They were in the company of relatives when Jesus was born, and not left by themselves in a stable with animals.
Myth 5 – The three Magi visited Jesus in the manger.
The shepherds were the ones who visited Jesus at the manger. According to scholars, the Magi visited Jesus at his home, close to the time when Herod decreed for all babies under the age of two to be put to death. There was also no mention how many Magi visited. But because three presents were given to Jesus, it was assumed that there were three Magi.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him… And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matthew 2:11-12)
(The last two myths have nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, but they are still part of the Christmas tradition.)
Myth 6 – Decorating pine trees is an ancient Christmas tradition.
Decorating Christmas trees is certainly not from Jesus’ time and certainly has nothing to do with Jesus’ birth. It was only brought in by the Germans in the mid 16th century.
Myth 7. Receiving gifts from Santa Claus.
What does a pot-belly old man who slides down chimneys have to do with Jesus’ birth? Is he a real person or a fictitious one?
Surprisingly, Santa actually is a real person! He is Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Greece, who lived during the 4th century. He was known for helping the poor, and particularly rescuing children and giving gifts. Somehow, many years after his death, people began associating him with the celebration of Christmas.
It is important for us to know the true meaning of Jesus’ birth by reading the Bible for ourselves and not just relying on traditions. During Christmas, let us celebrate Jesus’ humble birth and remember how much he has done for us.
Titus Lee is eight years old and loves to play the piano for his baby brother. He also loves reading about the heroes in the Bible.
From Top to Bottom:
Titus, Jojo (Josiah)
(Picture Credit: Chan Pei Ling)