Christmas is a time for friends, families, cheer, giving, and general annoyance. It is also a time for celebration, gifts, etc. A lot of traditions have grown up around christmas, and a lot of misconceptions have too. Below is the list of six common misconceptions about christmas that are repeated every year.
#1. MATRYMONY BETWEEN JOSEPH AND MARY
Joseph and Mary were betrothed to get married when he was told by an angel of Mary’s pregnancy. They had likely signed the ‘Katubbah’ which was the Jewish contract for engagement. As intructed by the angel, Joseph took Mary as his wife but did not consumate the marriage until after the birth of Jesus. So publicly they were married, but technically, since they had not consumated it, you can say that they were not married yet.
#2. JESUS WAS NOT BORN IN A MANGER
When Joseph and Mary arrived Bethlehem, since no room was available at any guest chamber (inn), they went to the place were livestocks were kept. In those days, places like these were small grottos or caves. According to the 7th advanced Oxford dictionary, a manger is a long open box that horses and cows can eat from; that is to say that the manger was actually in the cave and not the other way round. So after the birth of the baby Jesus, his mother wrapped him in strips of cloths and laid him in a manger. These were the two signs given to the shepherds by the angel.
#3. JESUS WAS NOT BORN ON 25TH OF DECEMBER
According to research, it is likely that he was born somewhere between 3-5B.C and likely in the spring. December 25th is a traditional date which was first mentioned in the Roman almanac in the 3rd century. According to Clement of Alexandria, several different days had been proposed by various Bible scholars but certainly December 25th was never mentioned by any of them. As at then, December 25th was the feast day of the unconquered sun, decreed by the pagan emperor Aurelian in 274 A.D. This day was later converted into the celebration of the birth of the Son of God by emperor Constantine who had already made Christianity the effective religion in Rome. The Church of Rome officially celebrated the first christmas on 25 of December, 336 A.D.
#4. THE NATIVITY SCENE
The nativity scene that we see today is totally different and not at all biblically accurate. Two gospels talk about the famous scene, Luke and Matthew. Matthew talk about the wise men while Luke mentions the shepherd going to see the infant king; but the two groups were never together at the time of their visits. There is no specific mention of animals and the gospels say nothing of an angel witnessing the birth of the king. This belief started when St. Francis of Assis first staged a live nativity show in 1223 A.D. At that time, Masses were in Latin, and not assesible to most poeple. So instead of learning the Bible from the church, they learned about it from plays like the nativity show. Two animals-donkey and ox- in particular are almost always included in the nativity scenes, but neither of them are mentioned in the gospels.
#5. KINGS OR SCHOLARS?
This is one of the most popular misconceptions about christmas. Some say they were kings riding carmels and following a star of Bethlehem to see the infant king. But this is totaly different from what the gospel of Matthew says. In Matthew 2:1-12, some group of men visited king Herod, asked for the new born king of the Jewsh, and then met him with his mother in a house where they worsheped him. He did not say that they were kings, that that were three in number or that they even rode carmels. These were refered to as magoi, a Latin word for magic, so far from being kings, they were astrologers, they were not even three in number because according to history, they had been elevated to the rank of preisthood before they visited the king, so probably they were many but dicided to pick out three among them to present the gifts on their behalf to the king. Nine presons can present three gifts and one person can also present three gifts. So they were certainly not three in number. They were not kings either.
#6. THE WISE MEN WERE NOT PRESENT AT THE NATIVITY.
Contrary to what we see in pictures today, the wise men were never present at the birth of Jesus. According to the gospel of Matthew 2:7, when the wise men met with king Herod, they apparently told him that the star had appeared two years ago. This could have been the reason why king Herod ordered the killings of all boys in Bethlehem at the age of two and below. Obviously he was no longer a baby but a samll child who had started walking and playing with sand. The wise men visited him two years after his birth and met him at home and not in a manger as we see today. Perhaps it took them two years the study and understand the star that appeared to them.
Let us try to correct these misconceptions about christmas in order to have a better understanding of the nativity story.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.