Christmas Date in the current year: December 25, 2024

Christmas On December 25, Western and some Eastern Christian churches celebrate Christmas, an important festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. What originated as a religious festival has evolved into a cultural celebration observed by billions of people around the world, many of them non-Christians. Christmas Day is a public holiday in over 100 countries.

In most Christian churches, Christmas is regarded as the second most important holiday of the liturgical year after Easter. The first mention of a Christmas celebration dates back to the 4th century. Before that, many Christians commemorated the birth of Christ in connection with the Epiphany (January 6).

December 25 was chosen as the date of birth of Jesus for several reasons. First of all, it was about nine months after the date of the vernal equinox (March 25), which is linked to the conception of Jesus. Second, December 25 was a date of the winter solstice celebrated by the Romans. Like many other Christian holidays, Christmas was meant to replace an old pagan tradition.

Today, Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays, as well as the highlight of the winter holiday season in many countries. In most countries, it is celebrated on December 25. However, most Eastern Churches observe Christmas on January 7, corresponding to December 25 in the Julian calendar. Interestingly, in Ukraine both dates of Christmas (January 7 and December 25) are public holidays. Finally, the Armenian Apostolic Church continues the ancient practice of celebrating the birth of Christ on the same day as his baptism (January 6).

The present-day Christmas celebrations in most countries are a mix of Christian, pre-Christian, and secular traditions. For observant Christians, attending a church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is an important part of the celebration. Along with Easter, the Christmas season is the period of the highest annual church attendance in many countries. Another religious tradition associated with Christmas is the viewing of Nativity plays reenacting the Nativity of Jesus.

Obviously, non-Christians don’t go to church, but there are many secular aspects of Christmas that have been adopted even in those countries where Christians aren’t the majority. The best known secular traditions of Christmas are Christmas trees and decorations, singing carols, exchanging Christmas cards, a big meal, and more. Although the most popular Christmas traditions in most countries have the same origin, specific customs vary from from country to country.

For example, each country has special foods served during the Christmas meal. In the United Kingdom and former British colonies, a stuffed turkey or other large bird is the centerpiece of a Christmas dinner. A traditional Christmas Eve dinner in Poland includes fried carp. Many Poles still follow the tradition of buying live carps, keeping them in bathtubs until the holiday, and then killing the fish and cooking it on Christmas Eve.

The gift giving tradition also has variations. It was originally inspired by the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the Three Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus. Today, there are several figures associated with Christmas and gift-bringing. They include Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, the Christkind, Joulupukki, Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”), Befana, and others. Some of them are believed to have companions such as Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, Zwarte Piet, or Snegurochka (“The Snow Maiden”).

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