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When & Where was Jesus born?

Baby Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem in Jerusalem around two and a half thousand years ago, is a much-celebrated event throughout the world. We know it as Christmas day, which falls on 25th December of each calendar year.

When was Jesus born?

This date for his birthday was said to coincide with the winter solstice which occurs around 22nd December. What is the winter solstice? It is the point on the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the Sun, where the Earth finds itself, each year, around this time. In the Northern hemisphere, this point signifies the beginning of the season of winter. But in the Southern hemisphere, this point marks the beginning of summer. So, technically, it is the summer solstice for the southern hemisphere.

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Christmas, as we know, is celebrated by giving people gifts. It is a season of the winter wonderland, thanksgiving and collecting gifts for everyone. It is a time to travel, to be with family, friends and to catch up. Nowadays, people celebrate Secret Santa during this festival. Santa Claus or Nicolas Claus is a favourite figure among kids of all ages.

He is said to come from the polar ice lands, on his sledge, bearing gifts. It is drawn by his helpers, the reindeer. Of all of them, Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer is said to lead the carriage. Santa Claus is a delightful figure because he is always funny, and he makes gifts to kids only if they have been nicer than they have been naughty. In this story, Scrooge is the character who doesn’t believe in Santa and is miserly. He always says all this is hocus-pocus because he doesn’t want to share.

Winter, as we know, is an austere season, it is white with snow, cold, it is considered by many religions to be a good time to hibernate, especially, in the animal kingdom. Ancient people hunted during the spring and travelled through summer and autumn. They rested during winter and fed on cured and stored food that they had hunted in the season of Spring, while they sat around fire circles and told each other stories of their journeys, thus far. They believed in gods who would help them hunt to survive and they never took more than they needed. Animals also live in this way, according to the seasons.

But, according to some people, Jesus celebrated his birthday on another date. This is said to fall around March 22nd, which is the time of the Spring Equinox. Around this time, a lot of religions around the world celebrate ‘Easter’ or the festival of “Ishtar”.

Ishtar is a word that we find in many documents describing the Goddess Ishtar, who is now considered to be Venus. Ishtar is associated with fertility, crops, agronomy and marks the beginning of the season of Spring in the Northern hemisphere. And the beginning of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. In Paganism, this festival of Easter is associated with tributes for Mother Nature.

In the animal kingdom, this is considered the birthing season, since all the lands are full of green and there is plenty to eat. This line of thinking points to the birth of baby Jesus around this time. Any parents want that their children should be well-fed and that they should have plenty to go around for all the guests who constantly visit, to say hello to the new-born. Easter, or Ishtar, is considered a Goddess of fertility.

In Northern England, there are circles of fertility, which are found and are said to occur by themselves. Women and men visit these circles each year to understand what they represent.

In another theory, each person has a solar birthday, which falls on their birth anniversary each year and marks the return of the Earth to the same spot it was in when they are born, through its annual revolution around the Sun, year after year. The other birth anniversary is considered to be the lunar birthday. Now, there are many calculations to arrive at the lunar birthday. But the one which is easiest is the date exactly 6 calendar months from the solar birthday.

For instance, if baby Jesus’ birthday is on December 25th, then his lunar birthday would be on June 25th. The reason people believe in lunar birthdays is that the Moon and the Sun are both considered very important for life on Earth. The Sun brings light and nourishment for all the beings. The Moon takes care of the tides of the sea, the winds and currents in the oceans. It is said in ancient cultures, that the Moon represents the mother and childhood.

The exact date of Baby Jesus and his birth is, therefore, a matter of some debate. People usually celebrate both Christmas and Easter every year. Jesus is also considered to be born immaculate and in the religious beliefs of many people, this phenomenon is the reason he is celebrated as the Son of God.

Jesus Christ Birth story

In many other religions, there are similar stories of immaculate birth, which is defined as a birth occurring, other than through the birth canal of a woman’s body.

There are stories of visitations from Gods who created beings like snakes, as in the case of Kadru’s children who were a hundred snakes in the Mahabharata, or for instance, King Dasaratha’s sons, who were created by his wives after they drank a potion, in the Ramayana. Whether there were pregnancies in these cases, as we understand it in the present day, is not clear.

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To come back to Jesus, and why his birthday is joyously celebrated: another story is the appearance of the three Magi. Carpenter Joesph and his wife Mary were visited by three wise men, bearing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh and foretold them of the birth of a baby. This baby was found in a Joesph’s stable, on a mound of hay. This event is celebrated as ‘Nativity’, during which people decorate a stable with streamers, balloons, little toys of donkeys, horses, sometimes even elaborate fish-ponds. This tradition tells the story of the three Magi. The three gifts that they brought for baby Jesus are now used as fragrant herbs, a purifying metal and for healing.

You might find these fragrances in incense and gold, of course, everyone knows gold. People horde a lot of gold and it’s interesting to note that baby Jesus is celebrated because he asked people not to be greedy, to give others more than they take. He also asked money-lenders not to hassle people and stood for not bringing the bazaar into places of worship. He was crucified at the cross for this at the time because that was considered punishment by barbaric kings and merchants, who would have lost business and money if people listened to Jesus. But he is the longest, continuously celebrated person today, for his acts of courage and common sense.

Another example is standing up for his friend, who was also called Mary, who was being stoned for being a prostitute with the famous words: “He who hath done no wrong shall cast the first stone.” Today, we know these famous words in variations such as, “Don’t point a finger when there are four others pointing back at you.

The story after the crucifixion of Jesus, tells us that he resurrected himself, three days later and returned to his father’s kingdom, known as the Kingdom of God. So, not only was Jesus never born, in the way, we would think, but he also never died.

Whenever we celebrate baby Jesus’ birthday, we all agree that his teachings and adventures point us to stunning, astonishing facts. Proven or unproven, they moreover point us in the direction of a greater good.

( If you’d like to know more about your own birthday or for a friend or family members, call or WhatsApp Swa on 9448073848 or email swasays9@gmail.com)

About Swarupa Sridharan

Swarupa works with policy advocacy on social innovation and how it fits into the scope of sustainable development goals. Her consultancy works with public and private groups, largely from a strategy, planning and communication standpoint, across industries.Her opinion pieces, stories, screenplays, songs, reader-interest stories have been published by Bennett and Coleman Co Ltd in the Bangalore Times edition of TOI, The Guardian- UK, Dare to Dream magazine -Australia and The Australian Writers' magazine.