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Christmas Day

Christmas Day, on December 25, is one of the most festive Christian holidays in many countries around the world. It celebrates Jesus' birth.

Many people celebrate Christmas Day with a festive meal.

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Celebrate Christmas Day

Christmas Day is a holiday in many, but not all, countries. Many homes have Christmas trees and other decorations in the weeks leading to Christmas Day. Some workplaces hold Christmas parties prior to December 25. Festive activities include exchanging presents, singing Christmas songs, going to parties.

It's a special time when children to get presents from family, friends and Santa Claus, or Father Christmas. Christmas cards are also given or sent out prior to Christmas Day.

For some, Christmas is an exclusive family affair, while others openly invite friends to a Christmas buffet or pot luck meal. Churches have special services and may include a crèche or miniature Nativity scene.

What's Open or Closed?

Christmas Day is a public holiday in many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Government offices, educational institutions, many businesses and post offices are closed on this day. If you're planning to travel with public transport, check with your local transport authority on schedule changes.

About Christmas Day

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of God. His birth date is unknown because there is little public information about his early life. There is disagreement among scholars on when Jesus was born. Many Christians celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25. Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on or near January 7.

The word “Christmas” comes from the old English “Cristes maesse”, or the mass of Christ. It is probably that the Christmas date of December 25 was chosen to offset the Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti. It may also be that the celebration of the birth of the “true light of the world” was set at the time of the December solstice because this is when the days in the northern hemisphere began to have more hours of sunlight.  Christmas holiday customs derive from various cultures, including Teutonic, Celtic, Roman, West Asian and Christian.

Symbols

The mistletoe is a commonly used Christmas decoration. Some people believe that any male or female who meet under a hanging mistletoe are obliged to kiss. Mistletoe has pagan associations. For example, the druids of Gaul regarded mistletoe growing on oak trees as sent from heaven. Other common decorations associated with Christmas are holly and ivy – both are associated with Pagan festivals as it was customary to decorate with greenery for these festivals.

Images of Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, snowmen, reindeer, and candy canes are seen in cards, posters, signs and other printed or marketing material associated with the Christmas celebrations. Images of baby Jesus, the Christmas star, and other symbols associated with the religious meaning of Christmas are also seen during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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