To many people all over the world, Christmas means presents, family, food, sharing, Santa Claus, giving thanks, etc. One misconception associated with Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ. History shows that Christ was not born on December 25 and to continue to celebrate it as His birthday is untrue. I would suggest that our society discontinue pretending that Christmas is Christ's birthday and remove from the celebration of Christmas any pretense of religion.

I do not profess to be a deeply religious person, nor do I consider myself to be particularly knowledgeable about the Bible or the teachings of God. I have read about and/or studied several religions, more out of curiosity and from a historical aspect than for my own religious beliefs.

One thing that has always puzzled me with respect to the different religions I have studied is that even though some people are aware that Jesus was not born on December 25, they continue to celebrate it as a Christian holiday in memory of His birth. I would challenge anyone to show me where the Bible proclaims that He was born on this date or anywhere near that time of the year. I would further challenge anyone anyone to show me where Jesus commands, asks, or even suggests that His birthday be celebrated, honored, or recognized.

"Everyone feasted and rejoiced. "Work and business, were for a season, entirely suspended; the houses were decked with laurel and evergreen, visits and presents were exchanged between friends, and clients gave gifts to their patrons. The whole season was one of rejoicing and goodwill, and all kinds of amusements were indulged in by the people."(Paganism in Christian Festivals by J.M. Wheeler).

Does this description fit the Christmas festivities we have become familiar with? Surprisingly, this was not Christmas. It is a description of Saturnalia - a week-long Roman festival associated with the winter solstice (when the days begin to lengthen) held on or around December 22 and dedicated to Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Some Christmas customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient celebration.

According to The New Encyclopedia Britannica, "December 25 is also the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light, from Rome's Mithraic religion, and the day devoted to the invincible sun, as well as the day after Saturnalia. They were adopted by the church as Christmas, the nativity of Christ, to counteract the effects of the Roman festivals that were becoming characterized by unrefrained merrymaking, wild revelry, tumult, and orgies. The birthday celebration continued with a simple switch in names, from Mithra to Christ."

In other words, someone had Jesus born on an imaginary, fabricated, false date. The establishment of Christ's birthday was merely an arbitrary decision similar to the way the United States Government changed the days that we recognize the birthdays of some of our beloved leaders like Martin Luther King, and Presidents Lincoln and Washington so Americans can have a three-day weekend.

Theologians, historians, and academics can only provide an educated guess based on information they do have. "The flocks passed the winter under cover"; and from this alone, it may be seen that the traditional date for Christmas, in the winter, is unlikely to be right since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields and the winter months are very cold in Jerusalem."(Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, by Henri Daniel-Rops, p.228).

There are influential people in the world today such as the pope, who could champion the idea of removing any notion of Christ's birthday from the celebration of Christmas. For example: For years Catholics were not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. They were supposed to make a sacrifice for Jesus because He made the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. Today, Catholics are no longer asked to practice this symbolic gesture, just because the pope decreed it. Why doesn't the pope accord the same treatment to the celebration of Christmas by asking all Catholics to discontinue celebrating it as His birthday?

I know I am not going to sway many minds with my opinion because religion falls under the category of deeply rooted beliefs that are difficult to persuade people to change; I would not begin to suggest that we should not, at least annually, take time out of