Who was Jesus Christ, and why is December 25 a major holiday celebrated across all geographic, political, and religious boundaries? Interestingly, while Jesus is associated primarily with Christianity in the Western world, other religions also recognize him as a significant figure. Explore this fascinating, mysterious, and sometimes controversial man’s life as we honor him on his birthday.
Jesus' Birthday timeline
Jesus was born in Nazareth, in the Galilee region of Israel, during the reign of Herod the Great.
When Jesus was 30 years old, he met John the Baptist, who declared Jesus to be the Son of God and baptized him.
After heading to a high mountain to pray, Jesus' face began shining, then his entire body glowed with a white light.
Not long after the transfiguration, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, where crowds gathered, heralding him as the Son of God.
When Jesus realized he would be arrested and almost certainly executed, he gathered his disciples for a last supper, gave his friends and followers his final words of faith, and told them that he knew one of them betrayed him.
How to Celebrate Jesus' Birthday
Celebrate as a religious observance
Christians honor Jesus on Christmas Day with a wide variety of customs; most include reenactments of the Nativity scene depicting Jesus' humble birth. Religious music is a major feature of the Christmas season, from simple caroling to glorious performances of Handel's "Messiah" oratorio. Attending a candlelit midnight church service on Christmas Eve is also an annual tradition for many Christian families.
Celebrate as a winter nature and music festival
The Christmas tree, mistletoe, and other plants associated with the holiday originated in pagan rituals — which blended into the religious observance because December 25th coincides with the winter solstice. Christmas lights are the modern version of candles. There's also an ever-increasing variety of Christmas songs ranging from jazz to rap.
Celebrate as an occasion for joyful giving
Exchanging presents has become a major part of Christmas. This year, perhaps we could consider simplifying gift-giving by thinking about how we can give something of ourselves. This could be nothing more than home-baked gluten-free treats for a friend with food allergies, finding a book your partner has been wanting, or just writing a heartfelt note of appreciation to a family member. Starting from a full and grateful heart, rather than from obligation or pressure, is the key to joyful giving.
3 Little-known Facts About Jesus Christ
Christ is not Jesus' last name
The name "Christ" actually refers to a title or office, rather than a given name, translated from the Hebrew word for "anointed," and transliterated into English as "Messiah.
Jesus was part of a big family
Jesus had several siblings, including brothers James, Joses (or Joseph), Judas, Simon, and at least 3 sisters, whose names have not been recorded.
Some non-Christian religions also recognize Jesus
For example, in Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets, a bringer of scriptures, and the Messiah. However, Islam does not consider him the Son of God, as Christians do.
Jesus' Birthday dates