25 December - 5 January
In the Christian religion, Christmas is a festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, usually on 25 December (a few parts of the world have other dates). It is observed by Christians the world over, but increasingly Christmas is also a commercial holiday observed by Christians and non-Christians alike.
25 December is Christmas Day. The day before Christmas Day (24 December) is Christmas Eve. The day after Christmas Day (26 December) is Boxing Day in Britain and many other English-speaking countries, but not the USA. (The origin of the name Boxing Day seems to relate to "boxes of gifts" given to servants and tradesmen on that day, though there may be other explanations.) The Twelve Days of Christmas (sometimes called "Christmastide") are from 25 December to 5 January, after which all Christmas decorations are supposed to be taken down.
Typical Christmas customs include:
- giving gifts
- exchanging Christmas cards
- singing Christmas carols
- attending church services
- eating a large, special meal
- displaying Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, holly and colourful lights
According to legend, Father Christmas (or Santa Claus, especially in the USA) is a white-bearded, elderly gentleman dressed in a red and white suit who brings presents for children.
Contributor: Josef Essberger