Christmas A Brief History

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Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmas. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the worlds nations and is celebrated by an increase in the number of non-Christians and has become a holiday season worldwide.

Whilst the birth of of Jesus is estimated to be between 7 and 2 BC, the exaxt month and day of his birth are unknown. By the early to mid 4th century, the Western Christina Church ahd placed Christmas on December 25.

The customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pagan, pre-christian, christian and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of cards, church celebrations, a specail meal and display of Christmas decorations including tree, lights, nativity secens, garland etc. In additions we have introduced Santa Claus who is associated with bringing gifts to children. This gift giving has brought about a huge economic upturn for retaillers at this time of the year.

Santa Claus has various origins including 4th century Holland and Turkey where the name Santa Claus or Sinterklaas translates to Saint Nicholas. He was noted for the care of children and the giving of gifts. The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however was created in the United States. After the Civil war some of the inhabitants of New York city sought symbols of the city's non English past. New York had been originally established as a Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklass tradition was reinvented as Santa Claus.

Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of the highest annual church attendance. In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the day preceding Christmas. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6th Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6th Epiphany.

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