Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a Jewish preacher and religious leader who has become the central figure of Christianity.
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A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave.
The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read either in an annual cycle or in a cycle of several years.
The Nativity Fast is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ,.
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
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The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies; when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore.
The Christ Child, also known as Divine Infant, Baby Jesus, Infant Jesus, Child Jesus, the Holy Child, and Santo Niño, refers to Jesus Christ from his nativity to age 12.
The New Testament is the second major part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible.
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, Palestine, about 10 km south of Jerusalem.
Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by the vast majority of Christians, as well as culturally by a number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration.
A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year.
A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended or reduced.
In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.
Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus.
A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return.
Although the month and date of Jesus' birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date which was later adopted in the East.
Western Christianity is the Latin Church, and Protestantism, together with the offshoots of these such as independent Catholicism and Mormonism taken together.
Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world.
The civil calendar is the calendar, or possibly one of several calendars, used within a country for civil, official or administrative purposes.
However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany.
Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic churches, and the denominations descended from the Assyrian Church of the East.
The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar.
This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25.
In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church, with its desire to be universal, "declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle", thus giving significance to both the Western and Eastern dates of Christmas.
In the medieval Roman Catholic church there were several Councils of Tours, that city being an old seat of Christianity, and considered fairly centrally located in France.
Moreover, for Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.
In a religious context, sin is the act of violating God's will by transgressing his commandments.
Although it is not known why December 25 became a date of celebration, there are several factors that may have influenced the choice.
December 25 was the date the Romans marked as the winter solstice, and Jesus was identified with the Sun based on an Old Testament verse.
The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
The date is exactly nine months following Annunciation, when the conception of Jesus is celebrated.
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation.
Finally, the Romans had a series of pagan festivals near the end of the year, so Christmas may have been scheduled at this time to appropriate, or compete with, one or more of these festivals.
Paganism is a term that derives from Latin word paganus, which originally meant "rustic, rural" and later came to mean "nonparticipant, one excluded from a more distinguished, professional group" and thus "private, civilian" as opposed to "public, official, military".
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins.
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion, or of not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion.
Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
In Christianity, a church service is a formalized period of communal worship, often but not exclusively occurring on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism.
A Christmas card is a greeting card sent as part of the traditional celebration of Christmas in order to convey between people a range of sentiments related to the Christmas and holiday season.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.
The Christkind is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of northeastern France, Upper Silesia in Poland, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana.
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure of Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on Christmas Eve and the early morning hours of Christmas Day.
Saint Nicholas of Myra, also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire.
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
Retail involves the process of selling consumer goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit.
The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.