Bible Question:

Were shepherds and sheep in the field in December at Christ's birth?

Bible Answer:

Luke 2:8-9 tells us that there were shepherds in the field at night on the day that Christ was born. The passage says,

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. Luke 2:8-9 (NASB)

Some claim that it is not possible that there were shepherds and sheep in the field in December at Christ’s birth. They state that the December temperatures would have been too cold, especially if it was snowing. What follows gives three reasons why Christ could have been born in the month of December.

Shepherds and Sheep in the Field in December

December Weather For Bethlehem Is Mild

Several weather services report that temperatures in Jerusalem in the month of December are mild. Snow is rare. For example, the Weather Channel reports the average temperatures in Jerusalem in the month of December varies between a maximum of 14°C (57.2°F) and a minimum of 8.4°C (47.12°F).[1]

Also, the WeatherBase reports that the average December temperature in the city of Jerusalem is 49° F (9° C). The average high temperature in December is 57.2° F (14° C) and the average low is 47.12° F (8.4° C). The highest recorded temperature in December is 78.8° F (26° C) and the lowest recorded temperature is 32.4° F (0.2° C). The average number of days below 32° F (0° C) in December is one. These are the statistics from 2010 to 2021.[2]

These temperatures compare favorably to those of the southern states of the United States in the month of December. They are very similar to those of Tucson, Arizona in the month of December. This means that snow is rare. A man or woman wearing a warm coat could easily be outside with sheep. These temperatures are also the temperatures for Bethlehem since it is about six miles from Jerusalem.

Witnesses Say Sheep In the December Snow

Dr. Harry Mulder of the Netherlands has stated that he personally witnessed sheep outside in December on Christmas Eve while he was visiting in Jerusalem. Here is his statement,

During the brief Christmas vacation my wife and I traveled from Beirut to Jerusalem . . . On Christmas Eve in Shepherd Field a crowd had gathered to sing Christmas carols. We joined this crowd and took part in the singing. Right near us a few flocks of sheep nestled. Even the lambs were not lacking. It was a moving sight. It is therefore definitely not impossible that the Lord Jesus was born in December.[3]

Since it rarely snows in Jerusalem, it is most likely that sheep were outside in the cold December night air in December. When we say “cold,” as stated above, the temperatures were mild compared to the winters in more northern countries.

Shepherds and Sheep In The Snow

Photographs from different parts of the world reveal that both shepherds and sheep are outside in the snow. The photographs reveal that the sheep graze on any existing vegetation.

Shepherds and Sheep In the Snow at Christ's Birth


Shepherds and Sheep In. the Snow

Shepherds and Sheep In the Field in December

Therefore, to claim that shepherds and sheep would not have been in the field in the cold December air is not accurate. In fact, it is an uniformed comment. Those who live in the city can be easily deceived by their sheltered existence. But those living in the country with herds understand that animals live outdoors in the cold and snow as they always have. Hundreds and thousands of animals, on a farm, are not placed in shelters. Wild animals all around the world live in the cold night weather. So, it is possible that shepherds and sheep were in the field in December at Christ’s birth.



1. Jerusalem Monthly Weather – December. The Weather Channel. (
3. Hendricksen, William. Matthew.  New Testament Commentary. Baker Book House, 1973, p. 182.

Suggested Links:

Was Jesus born on December 25? — Testimony of Historians
Can we determine the date of Christ’s birth from the visit of the magi?
What is the real meaning of Christmas?
Was Jesus born in September or on December 25? — Using John the Baptist’s birth
Was Jesus born in September? — Based on the arrival of the Magi
Why was Jesus Christ born into the world?
What does Immanuel mean?
How old was Jesus when the wise men found Him?