Debunking myths about the Christmas story has become a holiday tradition. Little League Bible scholars like me write things that make the general public feel like a bunch of suckers for believing superfluous elements of the Christmas story. This exercise can be moderately enlightening, but it misses the point. Figuring out what isn't true about the birth of Christ isn't nearly as important as figuring out what is.
Nevertheless, like singing the national anthem at a baseball game, let's run through the list of Christmas balderdash. The list is long, so let's just hit the highlights and move on.
Jesus was not born on December 25th.
He was probably born in April, but nobody's sure. After Christianity was Romanized, they decided to celebrate Christ's birth at the winter solstice because pagan festivals were already held during that time. The thing I don't get is why some people act like this makes the whole Christmas story a bunch of yuletide hooey. It was just good planning. Some third century Roman said, "Let's seeeee ... we need to find a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. We used to worship lichens and moss in December, but we don't do that anymore, so that might work. And I wouldn't have to by a new Day-Timer."
Mary did not ride to Bethlehem on a donkey.
At least the Bible says nothing about a donkey, and I'm betting she was probably in a wagon. Think about it--a woman who's nine months preggers bouncing up and down on a mule for sixty miles. She probably would have rode Joseph to Bethlehem before trying that.