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A Cultural History of Christmas

Season 2: Episode 46
A Cultural History of Christmas
Date Aired: 12/18/2023

Try as you might, you won’t find Santa Claus in the Bible. Or Christmas trees, or camel-riding Magi, or even December 25th! In the first centuries of Christianity, Christmas wasn’t really a “thing.” The birth of Jesus was far less important than his death and resurrection. So how did Christmas evolve from an afterthought into the biggest holiday on the planet? We’re thrilled to have Kyle Smith back on the podcast to present a deep-dive cultural history of Christmas. Why do we have so many different dates for Christmas? (12/25, 1/6, even 1/19!) Did the Three Kings have names (and were there actually three)? And how did Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop from Turkey, transform into rosy-cheeked Saint Nick?

Listen to the episode on the Biblical Time Machine website or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclaimer: The Society of Biblical Literature is not responsible for the content of this podcast. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Society of Biblical Literature, its members, or its staff.

  • The Biblical Time Machine Podcast is hosted by Helen Bond and Dave Roos. Helen Bond is professor of Christian origins at Edinburgh University. She is the author of Women Remembered: Jesus’s Female Disciples, The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark’s Gospel, and The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed. Her research focuses on the social and political history of first century Judaea, the historical Jesus and the canonical gospels. Dave Roos is a journalist and writer who contributes to, HowStuffWorks and the popular podcast Stuff You Should Know. Dave has a degree in religious studies from Duke University.