Asset ID: 109323486 / Sheridan Stancliff / assortment of festive holiday cookies
Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English : Crīstesmæsse , literally "Christ 's mass ") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ , celebrated generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday 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 Christmastide . Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations , is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season .
The precise year of Jesus' birth , which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. By the early-to-mid 4th century, Western Christianity had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after the Annunciation , the date Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived, as well as the date of the Roman winter solstice , which Christians consider to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany , and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia , where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar . Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia , Russia , Ukraine , Serbia , the Republic of Macedonia , and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; all the Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.
The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian , Christian and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving , Christmas music and caroling , an exchange of Christmas cards , church celebrations, a special meal , and the display of various Christmas decorations , including Christmas trees , Christmas lights , nativity scenes , garlands , wreaths , mistletoe , and holly . 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. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
Description above from the Wikipedia article Christmas
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