Christmas is an annual festival in the form of a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, observed as a religious and cultural celebration by billions of people across the world on December 25. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is followed by the Advent or Nativity Fast season and initiates the Christmas season, which traditionally lasts twelve days in the West and culminates in the Twelfth Night; Christmastide contains an octave in some traditions.
In many of the world’s nations, Christmas Day is a public holiday, is observed by several Christians religiously as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and is an important part of the holiday season based around it.
The traditional Christmas storey, the Nativity of Jesus, illustrated in the New Testament, states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem following the Messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the area, there was no place for the inn, and they provided a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to the shepherds who then spread the information.
Although the month and date of the birth of Jesus are uncertain, the early fourth-century church fixed the dates back to December 25. This refers to the day of the winter solstice of the Roman calendar.
In the Gregorian calendar, which has been followed nearly exclusively in the civil calendars used in countries around the world, most Christians celebrate on December 25. Some of the Eastern Christian Churches, however, observe Christmas on 25 December in the older Julian calendar, which is now 7 January in the Gregorian calendar. For Christians, it is considered the primary aim of celebrating Christmas to assume that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of mankind, rather than understanding Jesus’ precise date of birth.
The celebratory customs usually associated with Christmas in different countries have a combination of themes and roots that are pre-Christian, Christian, and secular. Common modern traditions of the holiday include watching a Nativity play; a special meal; completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath; gift-giving; Christmas music and caroling; an exchange of Christmas cards; religious services; and the display of assorted Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, garlands, nativity scenes, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
In addition, many closely connected and sometimes interchangeable characters are credited with giving presents to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of customs and lore, such as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind. Since gift-giving and many other facets of the Christmas festival include intensified commercial development, the holiday has become a major event for retailers and corporations and a crucial revenue season. In several regions of the world, the economic influence of Christmas has grown slowly over the past few decades.