For many of us, "The Christmas Story" is as familiar as a Grimm Fairy Tale--so familiar, in fact, that we hardly bother reading it anymore. However, if we treat the true story of Christmas just like a fairy tale, our approach leads to the same dangerous kind of exaggeration that leads to tall tales, myth, and legend.
The Birth of Jesus was a real, actual historical event--historians agree on that point. But what circumstances actually occurred in the days, weeks, months, and years surrounding His birth? You just might be surprised by what the Bible actually says!
To begin with, here is a link to an excellent summary of the most serious inaccuracies we have grown up with regarding The Christmas Story.
It seems that one of the most significant problems with our understanding of The Christmas Story is in what order the events happened. The Bible has two primary accounts of Christ's birth, in the books of Matthew and Luke. Because they provide different descriptions of The Christmas Story, several different possible chronological timelines have been proposed.
Another, slightly different version of the Christmas Timeline of the Biblical Account can be found at this link:
Since we don't really know exactly when the Magi started and ended their journey, the main problem with the timeline version from BibleStudy.org is that it states "[Mary & Joseph] stayed in a stable." Actually, as the following article points out, the Bible never mentions a stable, barn, or cave at all. The most reasonable assumption is that they (Mary & Joseph) were staying at the house of one of Joseph's relatives. Because of the Roman Census, there was no room in the guest room (which is an alternate translation of the word often translated "inn"), according to this article.
Despite all of the other misconceptions we may have about The Christmas Story, the most significant one most likely centers on the Magi and the Christmas Star. For example, many people believe that there were three "wisemen." However, the Bible doesn't actually say! Here's what one article (linked below) has to say:
"Some (Catholic church) Fathers speak of three Magi. They are very likely influenced by the number of gifts. In the Orient, tradition favors twelve."
It seems very likely to me that the Magi would have been accompanied by many servants, animals, and armed guards for such a lengthy trip. Read more about this at this link:
For centuries, people have wondered what "The Star" was. In general, people fall into two camps of opinion. On the one side are those who believe The Star of Bethlehem was a real, astronomical event. This documentary proposes that God used the movement of the stars and planets to draw the Magi to Jesus:
On the other hand, some believe that The Star of Bethlehem was a complete miracle, operating outside of natural law and unexplained by human science. This article lays out the premise.
This line of reasoning is further supported by this article from Answers in Genesis, which argues that the star's appearance was entirely supernatural.
No matter what you believe about The Star of Bethlehem, the fact remains that Jesus was born, grew up, and became a carpenter. Or did he? Apparently, the Bible isn't exactly clear on this point, either, which leads to a fascinating conclusion set forth in this article.