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- The New Testament provides no information regarding the date of the birth of Jesus. The traditional date is 25 December, which is mid-winter in Judea. Because the Luke account says that shepherds were outdoors with their flocks it has sometimes been suggested that this implies a summer or autumn date. However, the climate of Palestine is quite mild and in fact sheep are allowed to forage even in December.
- Early Christians sought to calculate the date of Christ's birth based on the idea that Old Testament prophets died either on an anniversary of their birth or of their conception. They reasoned that Jesus died on an anniversary of his conception, so the date of his birth was nine months after the date of Good Friday, either December 25 or January 6.
- At least as early as 354 AD, Jesus' birth was celebrated on December 25 in Rome, according to Chronography of 354. Other cities had other traditional dates. The history of Christmas is closely associated with that of the Epiphany. If the currently prevailing opinion about the compilation of the gospels is accepted, the earliest body of gospel tradition, represented by Mark no less than by the primitive non-Marcan document (Q document) embodied in the first and third gospels, begins, not with the birth and childhood of Jesus, but with his baptism; and this order of accretion of gospel matter is faithfully reflected in the time order of the invention of feasts. The church in general adopted Christmas much later than Epiphany, and before the 5th century there was no consensus as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on January 6 or December 25.