Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a global cultural and commercial phenomenon. People around the world observe it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular. For Christians, it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of Christianity. For Christians and non-Christians alike, popular customs include:
The History of Christmas
While today Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus during the Christmas holiday, the precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The bible does not mention a date for Jesus’ birth until the fourth century. Pope Julius I chose December 25 to celebrate and adopted and absorbed the traditions of the traditional winter solstice festivals, which were celebrated worldwide.
When is and how is Christmas celebrated?
In the 19th century, Americans began to embrace Christmas. Around the same time, the English author Charles Dickens created A Christmas Carol, a story about the importance of charity and goodwill toward all humankind. At the same time, families became more sensitive to the emotional needs of their children and lavished them with attention and gifts during the holiday.
A monk named St. Nicholas gave birth to the legend of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas, born in Turkey around 280 A.D., traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick and gave away all his inherited wealth, becoming known as the protector of children and sailors. Americans embraced St. Nicholas in the late 18th century when an Episcopal minister wrote a Christmas poem more popularly known by its first line, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Subsequently, in 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on the poem and immortalized the jolly man in red with a white beard and a sack of toys.