Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 1 BC. During this period, the Roman Empire was enjoying a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity. Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor, had begun to recall many of his troops from outlying provinces starting in 7 BC and releasing them from duty.
In the year 2 BC Rome celebrated its 750th year since it was founded according the records of the Roman priests (the Romans at that time determined that Rome was built in the year 753 BC). This also coincided with the 25th jubilee year of the reign of Caesar Augustus as Emperor of the Romans.
In August of 2 BC there were great festivals in Rome and throughout the provinces and the kingdoms allied with Rome. People came to the festivals from all over the Empire. It was also in 2 BC that Augustus finally dedicated the new Forum bearing his name.
By the year 2 BC, Augustus was already seen by the Romans as the “Prince of Peace.” And it was in 2 BC was that Augustus was given his most prestigious title, the highest honour that could be bestowed on any Roman, that of “Pater Patriae” or “Father of the Country”.
A decree went out from Augustus that required “the entire Roman people” to register their approval of him receiving this title before it could be bestowed upon him. This referendum/oath took place in the late summer and early autumn of 3 BC.
This universal census of allegiance to Augustus was demanded of all Roman citizens and all those who claimed any kind of authority within the Empire. It was required of any person (most notably the Jewish communities) who could trace their ancestry back to the great Jewish royal families. Therefore we have Joseph and Mary, both being descendants of King David, in this category. They were required to swear an oath that neither they, nor any of their offspring, would usurp the throne. It was Jewish custom that during such a census each travelled to the city of their ancestry. In the case of Mary and Joseph, the city was the city of David – Bethlehem.