Christmas is a yearly celebration honoring the birth of Jesus Christ that is celebrated by billions of people all over the world on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday. The season of Advent, also known as the Nativity Fast, precedes this important feast, which marks the beginning of the Christmastide season, which traditionally lasts twelve days and ends on Twelfth Night in the West.
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Christmas Day is a public holiday in many nations. It is a religious festival for the majority of Christians and a cultural holiday for many non-Christians. It also plays a significant role in the holiday season that is centered on it.
According to the traditional story, also known as the Nativity of Jesus, recorded in the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of messianic prophesies. The Christ Child was quickly born in the stable after being announced by angels to shepherds, who subsequently spread the word, when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city and the inn was full.
There are other theories as to when Jesus was born, but the church decided on December 25 as the official date in the early fourth century. On the Roman calendar, this corresponds to the customary date of the winter solstice. On March 25, which is also the day of the spring equinox, it is precisely nine months after the Annunciation.
The majority of Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25 according to the Gregorian calendar, which is nearly commonly used in civil calendars around the world. The former Julian calendar’s December 25—which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar—was used by several Eastern Christian Churches to celebrate this joyful festival.
Rather than focusing on knowing precisely when Jesus was born, Christians believe that the true meaning of this festival is the belief that God entered the world as a man to atone for humanity’s sins.
Pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and roots are mixed together in the festive traditions that are connected to Christmas in different nations.
Giving gifts, finishing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, singing carols, watching nativity plays, exchanging cards, attending church services, hosting a special meal, and putting up various decorations like trees, lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly are all common modern holiday customs.
Additionally, a number of closely related and frequently used characters, including Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are connected to the giving of gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own set of customs and lore.
As a result of the increased economic activity associated with gift-giving and other Christmas festival activities, the holiday has grown in importance and become a crucial time for sales for merchants and enterprises. This festival has had a progressively expanding economic impact in various parts of the world over the past few centuries.
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Early Roman history records that the date December 25 was first associated with the birth of Jesus Christ in the fourth century. Early Christmas celebrations are believed to have sprung from Roman and other European festivals that celebrated the winter solstice and the end of the harvest.
Some traditions from earlier festivals have persisted, such as using greenery to decorate homes, presenting gifts, singing songs, and partaking in special dishes.
The St. Nicholas tale contributed to the holiday’s growth. The man who would become St. Nicholas lived in the fourth century and is thought to have been a bishop in Asia Minor, however much of his history is unconfirmed.
Many of the miracles claimed to him are at best shaky. Nevertheless, he was made the patron saint of various nations. In addition, he is revered as the patron saint of the underprivileged (whom he generously gave gifts) as well as of sailors (whom he is said to have saved at sea) and children (for guarding them).
The Feast of St. Nicholas was observed on December 6 in his honor, and presents were distributed the night before. By the 12th century, the custom had become well-established in several nations of Europe. Due to the proximity of St. Nicholas Day and Christmas Day, their customs eventually became merged.
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Christmas Day is observed as a significant celebration and a public holiday around the world, including in many nations where the majority of the populace is not Christian.
The holiday has been observed in some non-Christian regions due to Christian minority or outside cultural influences; in other non-Christian regions, such as Hong Kong, it was first observed during periods of previous colonial authority.
Many of the secular components of this festival, like gift-giving, holiday decorations, and trees, have been adapted in places like Japan where it is popular despite the fact that there aren’t many Christians there.
Another instance of this is in Turkey, which has a tiny percentage of Christians and a majority Muslim population. During the holiday season, Christmas trees and other decorations frequently line the country’s streets.
Many different Christmas celebrations have evolved that blend regional and local cultures in nations with a strong Christian past.