By Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition:
We’ve heard it so many times that it’s practically part of the Christmas story itself.
The Romans celebrated their seven-day winter festival, Saturnalia, starting on December 17. It was a thoroughly pagan affair full of debauchery and the worship of the god Saturn. To mark the end of the winter solstice, the Roman emperor established December 25 as a feast to Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun). Wanting to make Christianity more palatable to the Romans and more popular with the people, the church co-opted these pagan festivals and put the celebration of the birth of their Savior on December 25. For whatever the Christmas holiday has become today, it started as a copycat of well-established pagan holidays. If you like Christmas, you have Saturnalia and Sol Invictus to thank.
That’s the story, and everyone from liberal Christians to conservative Christians to non-Christians seem to agree that it’s true.
Except that it isn’t.
Read the entire article here. It's well worth it.