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Was Jesus a Capricorn?

25 December: the date when millions of Brits pull crackers, eat turkey and swap presents – and when many celebrate the birth of Jesus.

But have we got it right, or have we misread the signs? Should Jesus really be considered a Capricorn – or could his birth have fallen at a different point in the calendar? And what might it mean if he is/isn’t?

And why is his birth considered significant in the first place – to the point where it’s now celebrated by billions of people around the world?

In this piece, we’ll be delving into the birth chart of the one and only Bible figure to influence several public holidays in the UK – Christmas included – with the aim of discovering more about his identity, and the impact he’s had on seasonal celebrations around the globe.

Jesus: A classic Capricorn?

Michelle Obama, Timothée Chalamet and Dolly Parton: all famous Capricorns. But what about Jesus?

If you’re clued up on birth charts and star signs, you’ll probably know the traits and tendencies of Caps like the back of your hand. Maybe you can even spot a Capricorn a mile off (probably the one typing away furiously on their laptop in the coffee shop, right?)

But does Jesus have the traits of a Capricorn?

Capricorns are said to be hardworking, honest and sensitive souls – all words that can be used to describe Jesus. According to the accounts of his life given in the first four books of the New Testament, Jesus dedicated his life to ministry and teaching, delivering speeches to thousands of people and performing healings that defy the laws of science.

He wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, either, even when it meant challenging the norm – and the authorities. And finally, we get a glimpse of his sensitive side not just through his attitude towards those on the fringes of society, but also through the shortest verse in the Bible: ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11.35). 

Maybe you know a few more typical Capricorn traits; do they match the image of Jesus that you have in your head?

So, was Jesus a Capricorn? 

If you're a Capricorn – one of the rarest star signs out there – you might have made the fairly safe assumption that you share your star sign with Jesus. But was Jesus really born on 25 December? Or, if not, did his birth at least fall between 21 December and 20 January – AKA Capricorn season? 

Despite tradition, there’s no definitive evidence to suggest that Jesus was born on 25 December – or anytime in Capricorn season for that matter – sorry, Cap babies. Scholars are yet to reach a consensus on the exact date of Jesus’ birth, but some experts estimate that the event may have occurred as late as early spring, perhaps placing his birth closer to Easter than Christmas Day. 

Was Jesus' birth written in the stars? 

Matthew’s ancient writings on the birth of Jesus admittedly don't offer any insight into his birth chart, but they do contain something else: a claim that something spectacular was happening in the skies around the time of his birth – a claim that his birth was written in the stars.

So, what exactly was going on here? And what does it all mean in relation to the rest of the Bible?

In the second chapter of Matthew’s book, we meet a group of men – known as Magi – who look to the stars and notice something brilliant: a sign in the night sky.

Throughout history, it’s been debated whether this group of individuals were astrologers or astronomers (more on that here), but ultimately, it all boils down to this: Matthew’s trying to make a point. He’s trying to tell us that something extraordinary is happening – something nothing short of miraculous.

But it’s not Matthew’s message – he's just the messenger. According to Matthew’s writing, God is giving a clear sign to this group of stargazers that something big is happening. And what better space to get the point across than the night sky?

Maybe the Magi have been looking out for signs, or maybe they haven’t. No matter the backdrop, they’re compelled to follow this star, and end up somewhere completely unexpected: visiting an infant of humble origins.

Why was Jesus’ birth seen as important?

Do you believe in signs? Maybe it’s something you’ve experienced personally; maybe you look out for a sign to confirm you’re heading in the right direction; perhaps you’ve even waited a really long time to receive a sign, eagerly anticipating that moment of confirmation: this is it.

For many, including Matthew, Jesus’ birth was a little like that. In the Hebrew Scriptures (referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ in Christian Bibles), you’ll find hundreds of predictions that point towards the arrival of a promised one – a king who would be different from the rulers before.

The start of the New Testament includes two separate accounts of different groups of individuals – from shepherds to stargazers – who experience something miraculous, both with the same message: the promised one is here.

As such, Matthew’s text isn’t so much about providing a highly detailed historical account proving the birth of Jesus, but more about revealing the identity of Jesus to the reader. It does this through the dramatic story of the Wise Men, inviting the reader to make the link between the Old Testament and the New. It’s a way for Matthew to make his claim about Jesus’ identity from the very start: this is the one we've been waiting for.

In short, he’s saying: this is it.

What impact did Jesus’ birth have?

The impact of Jesus’ birth, life, death – and, some believe, resurrection – was vast. But it started out small, with lots of the New Testament dedicated to documenting the growth and challenges of the early Church at a time when Christians were persecuted.

But, fast-forward 2,000+ years, and Jesus’ birth is now marked in over 160 countries worldwide.

But why do over 2 billion people around the world continue to celebrate Christmas on 25 December – (in addition to those within the Eastern Orthodox Church who celebrate it on 6 January) – especially when so many questions remain about his actual birth date?

Historians offer a few suggestions, but the leading explanation relates to the role of pagan winter festivals. The Roman Empire celebrated Sol Invictus (‘the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun’) on 25 December, marking the return of longer days after the winter solstice. Plus, the birthday of Indo-European deity, Mithra, was also celebrated around this time, and had grown increasingly popular among Roman soldiers.

However, Christianity’s popularity was also growing. So much so that the Church in Rome first marked Christmas Day on 25 December in 336 CE, during the reign of Constantine the Great. Then, in 380 CE, Theodosius I declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. As such, Roman festivals, like Sol Invictus, shrank in popularity with the spread of Christianity – an act that highlights the impact of the life and legacy of one individual.

How can we view Jesus today?

Okay, so if we can’t be certain of the date of Jesus’ birth, does this alter our view of him? Can we really view him as a Capricorn or does this create an air of mystery around his identity and his personality?

In some ways, this debate isn’t anything new; according to biblical writings, people were torn about the identity of Jesus at the time, too – some viewing him as a fraud, others viewing him as the promised one, and some simply not knowing what to think.

And yet, his legacy remains.

Today, over 2 billion people around the world still follow him – maybe you know a few Christians, or you’d class yourself as one. But are the accounts of this mysterious, miraculous man still worth exploring? Could ancient reports of his life play a part in your spiritual search today? Why not find out?

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