The Christmas story is wonderful isn't it? However, over the decades Christians have taken a lot of creative liberties with the Christmas story adding details that the Scripture either denies or does not state. The birth narratives of Jesus are found in Matthew and Luke, with Luke 2 as the go to text for the Christmas story. After all, it is the one Linus quotes for Charlie Brown. In this post, I figured I’d spread the Christmas cheer and help clear up some confusion and debunk 6 Christmas myths that many people believe.
1. Mary Rode on a Camel to Bethlehem
When we think about Mary and Joseph traveling to Jerusalem we often think about a lone couple in the wilderness with Mary on the back of a camel. Mary could have very well have ridden a camel, but the text doesn’t say. She might have had to walk the entire 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It probably would have been a 4 - 7 day journey. It is also unlikely that Mary and Joseph would have traveled alone. Especially since many people would be traveling to their home tomes due to the census, they probably joined a caravan of people heading towards Bethlehem. Their was safety in numbers as you traveled so Mary and Joseph probably did not make the trip solo.
2. The Innkeeper was Rude to Mary and Joseph
One character who makes it into every Christmas play is the Inn Keeper. He is often portrayed as a wealthy business man who kicks out the pregnant woman to the barn to sleep. He is sometimes presented as cruel, sometimes he is shown as disappointed he could not do more to help Mary and Joseph. The only problem is that there is not a single inn keeper mentioned in the Scriptures. I’m sure they might have talked to a few, but we don’t know. It is likely that the young couple would have stayed with a distant relative of Joseph. The word “inn” in the greek can also be translated “guest room”. The young couple might have not stayed at an innkeepers stable at all, but a stable of one of Joseph’s distant relatives. The Gospels really do not give us a lot of information surrounding the detail of Jesus’ birth. Which is why many have created elaborate back stories to the birth narrative.
3. There are only 3 Wise Men
When we think of the Wise Men we often think of three of them riding on their camels with their flamboyant Flavor Flav jewelry. The reason we typically think of them as three is because the wise men presented three different gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Catholic church even goes on to name the three magi as Balthasar, Caspar, and Melchior. Despite the traditional depiction of three wise men, the Scripture again doesn’t specify. All we know is that there are more than one. There could have been two or their could have been ten. Scripture does not say.
4. The Wise Men Saw the Birth of Christ
I seriously got into a fight with a girl in the third grade over this myth. She swore up and down that the wise men were there the night Jesus was born. This one is going to ruin your wonderfully quaint nativity scene on your mantel, but I hate the break it to you – the wise men were not there. The Gospel of Matthew describes the wise men arriving at a house where Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus were. They likely arrived when Jesus was one or two years old. Yet, in our nativity scenes we have the three wise men hanging out on their camels with the shepherds. So go to your nativity scene and take your wise men figures and move them to the other side of the room. Nice! Now your nativity scene is historically accurate!
5. X-Mas is Kicking Christ out of Christmas
Christians get very upset when you write X-mas. I saw a church sign this past week that rebuked the community for saying X-Mas. Yet, writing X-Mas is not kicking out Christ from Christmas. In greek the first letter of the word “Christ” (Χριστός) is the greek letter Chi which looks almost identical to an english “X”. X-Mas is just an abbreviation for Christ. It is perfectly legitimate to tweet “Merry X-Mas” and not be considered a heretic.
6. The Little Drummer Played His Drum
I don’t know if anyone actually believes the Little Drummer boy is a real character, but he is not. It is one of our modern additions to the Christmas story. It makes for a cool song, but the Little Drumer boy is a work of fiction. Besides, if I were Joseph I’d beat that Little Drummer boy tail for waking up the newborn baby with his loud “Rump-a-pum pumping”. Seriously? This kid must have zero manners.
Any Christmas Myths I Missed? Do you or your friends believe any of these myths? If so share with us in the comments!