The short answer to this question is, we simply don’t know the exact date, or even the year of our Savior’s birth, but a December 25th, 0 A.D. birth does not seem likely. Meticulous examination has led many scholars to believe it was somewhere between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Whenever Jesus’ birth occurred, we can be certain of this: if God had wanted us to know the exact date and year, He certainly could have told us in His Word. Lee Strobel reminds us that in several other aspects of this event, He gives very specific details about that night, even down to what the Christ-Child was wearing – “swaddling cloths”—and where he slept— “in a manger ” (Luke 2:12). These are things we need to understand because they speak to the nature and character of Jesus and how He will live His life. He was meek and lowly. But the precise date of His birth, like the star in the east, has no relevance. Perhaps this is the reason God chose to exclude such information from the Gospels. With that said, I would like to share what may be ascertained by what is found in the Scriptures. Here is why a December date for His birth may be unlikely.
1. The shepherds were in the fields that night – We know for certain that on the night Jesus was born, shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks (Luke 2:7-8). This would not have been a likely scenario during the frigid night temperatures in December. Since December is not only cold but also an especially rainy month in Judea, it is quite likely that the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night rather than being in the fields where they might be exposed to the extremely harsh elements.
2. A census was being taken at that time – Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem to register in the Roman census decreed by Augustus (Luke 2:1-4) and once again weather would have been a consideration for the timing of such an edict. This type of census was not taken in the cold winter months, when temperatures often dropped below freezing creating hazardous travel conditions and thereby defeating the purpose for a census in the first place.
3. John the Baptist was likely born in February-March – Since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:24-36), we can determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born. John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Jerusalem temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Historical calculations indicate this course of service corresponded to June 13-19 in that year (The Companion Bible , 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200). It was during the time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). John’s conception at that time, brings us to a birth at the beginning to the middle of March as the most likely timing. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus (Luke 1:35-36)) brings us to August-September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.
That being said (written), this Christmas, may our focus be on the truth that He was born, He died for our sins and He is alive today. In this fact our hearts rejoice! “Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion, for behold I come and I will dwell in your midst…” – Zechariah 2:10