Christmas is on its way and, as always, the classic carols are playing and nativity scenes are showing up on our high streets and shop displays. However, there are huge misconceptions about the Christmas story that even Christians can slip up on today. So, just to make sure we can sort the facts from fiction, here’s a list of hugely common myths about the Christmas story:
Myth 1: There were three wise kings
We’ve all seen adorable school productions, where three children will act out the pursuit of a shining star, playing the three wise men on their way to find Jesus. However, the Bible does not mention a specific number of wise men! One of the reasons that ‘three’ became a popular notion, was due to the mention of the three gifts given to Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Bible also never refers to them as kings.
Myth 2: The wise men visited the baby Jesus
When we imagine the story of Jesus’ birth, the picture of the nativity scene, full of guests and animals may come to mind. However, this image is a little over crowded. The wise men did not visit the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. They didn’t set off until after He was born, and after Herod’s decree to murder baby boys under the age of two. The magi carried out their journey and visited Jesus as a toddler, when he was around one or two years old.
Myth 3: The star settled over the stable
This brings us on to the glistening star seen hanging above the birth place of Jesus, seen on Christmas cards around the world. Because the wise men weren’t on route to the manger that held the new-born Jesus, the star they were following didn’t rest there either. The star led them to a completely different location at a completely different time. Plus, there isn’t any mention of a stable in the Bible’s account at all. There is speculation about where Mary and Joseph found rest, as they had many social connections and mangers were sometimes kept on the lower floor of people’s homes.
Myth 4: Mary travelled to Bethlehem by donkey
The journey of a very pregnant Mary, on the back of a donkey, is hugely common. Nativity shows have even been written around the experience of the animal itself! However, there’s actually no mention of a donkey in the Bible’s account. Mary was well on her way to becoming a mother and so perhaps that’s why our natural response was to give her a helping hand (or hoof) in the story. The journey was 65 miles long, which would have been pretty difficult for the couple. So, there may well have been a donkey to help them along the way, but we don’t know for sure!
Did you know the truth about these common Christmas misconceptions? If not, you’re not alone! But now we can be ready to share the good news of Christmas, without skewing any of the important details…
Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash