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Christmas (Old English: Crstesmsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ[6 [! and a "idel# obser$ed holida#, celebrated generall# on %ecember &'[( [) [' b# millions of *eo*le around the "orld+[& [, - feast central to the Christian liturgical #ear, it closes the -d$ent season and initiates the t"el$e da#s ofChristmastide, "hich ends after the t"elfth night+ [. Christmas is a ci$il holida# in man# of the "orld's nations,[/0 [// [/& is celebrated b# an increasing number of non1Christians,[/ [/( [/) and is an integral *art of the Christmas and holida# season+ 2hile the birth #ear of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to ha$e been bet"een ! and & 3C, the e4act month and da# of his birth are un5no"n+[/' [/6 6is birth is mentioned in t"o of the four canonical gos*els+ 3# the earl#1to1mid )th centur#, the 2estern Christian Church had *laced Christmas on %ecember &',[/! a date later ado*ted in the East+ [/, [/. 7he date of Christmas ma# ha$e initiall# been chosen to corres*ond "ith the da# e4actl# nine months after earl# Christians belie$ed Jesus to ha$e been concei$ed,[&0 or "ith one or more ancient *ol#theistic festi$als that occurred near southern solstice (i+e+, the 8oman "inter solstice)9 a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical $erse[a identif#ing Jesus as the ":un of righteousness"+[&0 [&/ [&& [&( [&) 7he original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianit# "as Januar# 6, in connection "ith E*i*han#, and that is still the date of the celebration for the -rmenian -*ostolic Church and in -rmenia, "here it is a *ublic holida#+ -s of &0/(, there is a difference of /( da#s bet"een the modern ;regorian calendar and the older Julian calendar+ 7hose "ho continue to use the Julian calendar or its e<ui$alents thus celebrate %ecember &' and Januar# 6, "hich on the ;regorian calendar translate as Januar# ! and Januar# /.+ =or this reason, Ethio*ia, 8ussia, ;eorgia, >5raine, :erbia, the 8e*ublic of Macedonia, and the 8e*ublic of Moldo$a celebrate Christmas on "hat in the ;regorian calendar is Januar# !+ Eastern Orthodo4 Churches in3ulgaria, ;reece, 8omania, -ntioch, -le4andria, -lbania, =inland, and the Orthodo4 Church in -merica celebrate Christmas on %ecember &' in the re$ised Julian calendar, corres*onding to %ecember &' also in the ;regorian calendar+ 7he celebrator# customs associated in $arious countries "ith Christmas ha$e a mi4 of *re1 Christian, Christian, and secularthemes and origins+[&' ?o*ular modern customs of the holida# include gift gi$ing, Christmas music and caroling, an e4change of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a s*ecial meal, and the dis*la# of $arious Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nati$it# scenes, garlands, "reaths, mistletoe, and holl#+ @n addition, se$eral closel# related and often interchangeable figures, 5no"n as :anta Claus, =ather Christmas, :aint Aicholas, and Christ5ind, are associated "ith bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and ha$e their o"n bod# of traditions and lore+[&6 3ecause gift1gi$ing and man# other as*ects of the Christmas festi$al in$ol$e heightened economic acti$it# among both Christians and non1Christians, the holida# has become a significant e$ent and a 5e# sales *eriod for retailers and businesses+ 7he economic im*act of Christmas is a factor that has gro"n steadil# o$er the *ast fe" centuries in man# regions of the "orld+ Etymology "Christmas" is a com*ound "ord originating in the term "Christ's Mass"+ @t is deri$ed from the Middle English Cristemasse, "hich is from Old English Crstesmsse, a *hrase first recorded in /0(,[! follo"ed b# the "ord Cristes1messe in //(/+ [&! Crst (geniti$e Crstes) is from ;ree5 Khrstos (BCDEFGH), a translation of 6ebre" Ma (I J KL NO M P ), "Messiah"9 andmsse is from Qatin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist+ 7he form "Christenmas" "as also historicall# used, but is no" considered archaic and dialectal9[&, it deri$es from Middle English Cristenmasse, literall# "Christian mass"+ [&. "Rmas" is an abbre$iation of Christmas found *articularl# in *rint, based on the initial letter chi (B) in ;ree5 Khrstos(BCDEFGH), "Christ", though numerous st#le guides discourage its use9[(0 it has *recedent in Middle English es masse ("here "BC" is an abbre$iation for BCDEFGH)+[&. Other names @n addition to "Christmas", the holida# has been 5no"n b# $arious other names throughout its histor#+ 7he -nglo1:a4ons referred to the feast as "mid"inter", [(/ [(& or, more rarel#, as Ntiuite (from Qatin ntvits belo")+[(/ [(( "Aati$it#", meaning "birth", is from Qatin ntvits+[() @n Old English, Gola ("Sule") referred to the *eriod corres*onding to Januar# and %ecember9[(' the cognate Old Aorse Jl "as later the name of a *agan :candina$ian holida# "hich merged "ith Christmas

around /000+[(/ "Aoel" (or "Ao"ell") entered English in the late /)th centur# and is from the Old =rench nol or nal, itself ultimatel# from the Qatin ntlis !is", "(da#) of birth"+[(6 Celebration Christmas %a# is celebrated as a maTor festi$al and *ublic holida# in countries around the "orld, including man# "hose *o*ulations are mostl# non1Christian+ @n some non1Christian countries, *eriods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e+g+ 6ong Uong)9 in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences ha$e led *o*ulations to obser$e the holida#+ Countries such as Ja*an, "here Christmas is *o*ular des*ite there being onl# a small number of Christians, ha$e ado*ted man# of the secular as*ects of Christmas, such as gift1gi$ing, decorations, and Christmas trees+ Countries in "hich Christmas is not a formal *ublic holida# include -fghanistan, -lgeria, -VerbaiTan, 3ahrain, 3hutan,Cambodia, China (e4ce*ting 6ong Uong and Macao), Comoros, @ran, @srael, Ja*an, Uu"ait, Qaos, Qib#a, Maldi$es,Mauritania, Mongolia, Mo rocco, Aorth Uorea, Oman, ?a5istan, Watar, :ahra"i -rab %emocratic 8e*ublic, :audi -rabia,:omalia, 7aTi5istan, 7hailand, 7unisia, 7ur5e#, 7ur5menistan, >nited -rab Emirates, >Vbe5istan, Xietnam, and Semen+ Christmas celebrations around the "orld can $ar# mar5edl# in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions+ -mong countries "ith a strong Christian tradition, a $ariet# of Christmas celebrations ha$e de$elo*ed that incor*orate regional and local cultures+ =or Christians, *artici*ating in a religious ser$ice *la#s an im*ortant *art in the recognition of the season+ Christmas, along "ith Easter, is the *eriod of highest annual church attendance+ @n Catholic countries, *eo*le hold religious *rocessions or *arades in the da#s *receding Christmas+ @n other countries, secular *rocessions or *arades featuring :anta Claus and other seasonal figures are often held+ =amil# reunions and the e4change of gifts are a "ides*read feature of the season+ ;ift gi$ing ta5es *lace on Christmas %a# in most countries+ Others *ractice gift gi$ing on %ecember 6, :aint Aicholas %a#, and Januar# 6, E*i*han#+ Commemorating Jesus' birth Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Xirgin Mar# as a fulfillment of the Old 7estament's Messianic *ro*hec#+[(! 7he 3iblecontains t"o accounts "hich describe the e$ents surrounding Jesus' birth+ %e*ending on one's *ers*ecti$e, these accounts either differ from each other or tell t"o $ersions of the same stor#+[(, [(. [)0 [)/ 7hese biblical accounts are found in the ;os*el of Matthe", namel# Matthe" /:/,, and the ;os*el of Qu5e, s*ecificall# Qu5e /:&6 and &:)0+ -ccording to these accounts, Jesus "as born to Mar#, assisted b# her husband Jose*h, in the cit# of 3ethlehem+ -ccording to *o*ular tradition, the birth too5 *lace in a stable, surrounded b# farm animals+ -manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Qu5e &:!, "here it states Mar# ""ra**ed him in s"addling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there "as no room for them in the inn" (UJX)9 and ":he "ra**ed him in cloths and *laced him in a manger, because there "as no guest room a$ailable for them" (A@X)+ :he*herds from the fields surrounding 3ethlehem "ere told of the birth b# an angel, and "ere the first to see the child+[)& ?o*ular tradition also holds that three 5ings or "ise men (named Melchior, Cas*ar, and 3althaVar) $isited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictl# follo" the biblical account+ 7he ;os*el of Matthe" instead describes a $isit b# an uns*ecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus "as born "hile the famil# "as li$ing in a house (Matthe" &://), "ho brought gifts of gold, fran5incense, and m#rrh to the #oung child Jesus+ 7he $isitors "ere said to be follo"ing a m#sterious star, commonl# 5no"n as the :tar of 3ethlehem, belie$ing it to announce the birth of a 5ing of the Je"s+[)( 7he commemoration of this $isit, the =east of E*i*han# celebrated on Januar# 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches+ Christians celebrate Christmas in $arious "a#s+ @n addition to this da# being one of the most im*ortant and *o*ular for the attendance of church ser$ices, there are other de$otions and *o*ular traditions+ @n some Christian denominations, children re1enact the e$ents of the Aati$it# "ith animals to *ortra# the e$ent "ith more realism or sing carols that reference the e$ent+ - long artistic tradition has gro"n of *roducing *ainted de*ictions of the nati$it# in art+ Aati$it# scenes are traditionall# set in a stable "ith li$estoc5 and include Mar#, Jose*h, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three "ise men, the she*herds and their shee*, the angels, and the :tar of 3ethlehem+ [)) :ome Christians also dis*la# a small re1creation of the Aati$it#, 5no"n as a Aati$it# scene or crYche, in their homes, using figurines to *ortra# the 5e#

characters of the e$ent+ ?rior to Christmas %a#, the Eastern Orthodo4 Church *ractices the )01da# Aati$it# =ast in antici*ation of the birth of Jesus, "hile much of 2estern Christianit# celebrates four "ee5s of -d$ent+ 7he final *re*arations for Christmas are made on Christmas E$e, and man# families' maTor obser$ation of Christmas actuall# falls in the e$ening of this da#+ Decorations 7he *ractice of *utting u* s*ecial decorations at Christmas has a long histor#+ @n the /'th centur#, it "as recorded that in Qondon it "as the custom at Christmas for e$er# house and all the *arish churches to be "dec5ed "ith holm, i$#, ba#s, and "hatsoe$er the season of the #ear afforded to be green"+ [)' 7he heart1 sha*ed lea$es of i$# "ere said to s#mboliVe the coming to earth of Jesus, "hile holl# "as seen as *rotection against *agans and "itches, its thorns and red berries held to re*resent the Cro"n of 7horns "orn b# Jesus at the crucifi4ion and the blood he shed+[)6 [)! Aati$it# scenes are 5no"n from /0th1centur# 8ome+ 7he# "ere *o*ularised b# :aint =rancis of -sissi from /&&(, <uic5l# s*reading across Euro*e+[), %ifferent t#*es of decorations de$elo*ed across the Christian "orld, de*endent on local tradition and a$ailable resources+ 7he first commerciall# *roduced decorations a**eared in ;erman# in the /,60s, ins*ired b# *a*er chains made b# children+ [). @n countries "here a re*resentation of the Aati$it# :cene is $er# *o*ular, *eo*le are encouraged to com*ete and create the most original or realistic ones+ 2ithin some families, the *ieces used to ma5e the re*resentation are considered a $aluable famil#heirloom+ 7he traditional colors of Christmas are red, green and gold+['0 8ed s#mboliVes the blood of Jesus, "hich "as shed in his crucifi4ion, "hile green s#mboliVes eternal life, and in *articular the e$ergreen tree, "hich does not lose its lea$es in the "inter, and gold is the first color associated "ith Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Magi, s#mboliVing ro#alt#+[)! 7he Christmas tree is considered b# some as Christianisation of *agan tradition and ritual surrounding the 2inter :olstice, "hich included the use of e$ergreen boughs, and an ada*tation of *agan tree "orshi*9['/ according to eighth1centur# biogra*her Zddi :te*hanus, :aint 3oniface(6()[!0.), "ho "as a missionar# in ;erman#, too5 an a4e to an oa5 tree dedicated to 7hor and *ointed out a fir tree, "hich he stated "as a more fitting obTect of re$erence because it *ointed to hea$en and it had a triangular sha*e, "hich he said "as s#mbolic of the 7rinit#+['& 7heEnglish language *hrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in /,('['( and re*resents an im*ortation from the ;erman language+ 7he modern Christmas tree tradition is belie$ed to ha$e begun in ;erman# in the /,th centur# ['/ though man# argue that Martin Quther began the tradition in the /6th centur#+[') ['' =rom ;erman# the custom "as introduced to 3ritain, first $ia Wueen Charlotte, "ife of ;eorge @@@, and then more successfull# b# ?rince -lbert during the reign of Wueen Xictoria+ 3# /,)/ the Christmas tree had become e$en more "ides*read throughout 3ritain+['6 3# the /,!0s, *eo*le in the >nited :tates had ado*ted the custom of *utting u* a Christmas tree+ ['! Christmas trees ma# be decorated "ith lights and ornaments+ :ince the /.th centur#, the *oinsettia, a nati$e *lant from Me4ico, has been associated "ith Christmas+ Other *o*ular holida# *lants include holl#, mistletoe, red amar#llis, and Christmas cactus+ -long "ith a Christmas tree, the interior of a home ma# be decorated "ith these *lants, along "ith garlands and e$ergreen foliage+ 7he dis*la# of Christmas $illages has also become a tradition in man# homes during this season+ 7he outside of houses ma# be decorated "ith lights and sometimes "ith illuminated sleighs, sno"men, and other Christmas figures+ Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, cand# canes, stoc5ings, "reaths, and angels+ 3oth the dis*la#ing of "reaths and candles in each "indo" are a more traditional Christmas dis*la#+ 7he concentric assortment of lea$es, usuall# from an e$ergreen, ma5e u* Christmas "reaths and are designed to *re*are Christians for the -d$ent season+ Candles in each "indo" are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians belie$e that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the "orld+[', Christmas lights and banners ma# be hung along streets, music *la#ed from s*ea5ers, and Christmas trees *laced in *rominent *laces+['. @t is common in man# *arts of the "orld for to"n s<uares and consumer sho**ing areas to s*onsor and dis*la# decorations+ 8olls of brightl# colored *a*er "ith secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the *ur*ose of "ra**ing gifts+ @n some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionall# ta5en do"n on 7"elfth Aight, the e$ening of Januar# '+

Music and carols 7he earliest e4tant s*ecificall# Christmas h#mns a**ear in )th1centur# 8ome+ Qatin h#mns such as "Xeni redem*tor gentium", "ritten b#-mbrose, -rchbisho* of Milan, "ere austere statements of the theological doctrine of the @ncarnation in o**osition to -rianism+ "Corde natus e4 ?arentis" ("Of the =ather's lo$e begotten") b# the :*anish *oet ?rudentius (d+ )/() is still sung in some churches toda#+[60 @n the .th and /0th centuries, the Christmas ":e<uence" or "?rose" "as introduced in Aorth Euro*ean monasteries, de$elo*ing under3ernard of Clair$au4 into a se<uence of rh#med stanVas+ @n the /&th centur# the ?arisian mon5 -dam of :t+ Xictor began to deri$e music from *o*ular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol+ 3# the /(th centur#, in =rance, ;erman#, and *articularl#, @tal#, under the influence of =rancis of -sissi, a strong tradition of *o*ular Christmas songs in the nati$e language de$elo*ed+ [6/ Christmas carols in English first a**ear in a /)&6 "or5 of John -"dla#, a:hro*shire cha*lain, "ho lists t"ent#1fi$e "caroles of Cristemas", *robabl# sung b# grou*s of "assailers, "ho "ent from house to house+[6& 7he songs "e 5no" s*ecificall# as carols "ere originall# communal fol5 songs sung during celebrations such as "har$est tide" as "ell as Christmas+ @t "as onl# later that carols began to be sung in church+ 7raditionall#, carols ha$e often been based on medie$al chord *atterns, and it is this that gi$es them their uni<uel# characteristic musical sound+ :ome carols li5e "?ersonent hodie", ";ood Uing 2enceslas", and "7he 6oll# and the @$#" can be traced directl# bac5 to the Middle -ges+ 7he# are among the oldest musical com*ositions still regularl# sung+ "-deste =ideles" (O Come all #e faithful) a**ears in its current form in the mid1/,th centur#, although the "ords ma# ha$e originated in the /(th centur#+ :inging of carols initiall# suffered a decline in *o*ularit# after the ?rotestant 8eformation in northern Euro*e, although some 8eformers, li5e Martin Quther, "rote carols and encouraged their use in "orshi*+ Carols largel# sur$i$ed in rural communities until the re$i$al of interest in *o*ular songs in the /.th centur#+ 7he /,th1centur# English reformer Charles 2esle# understood the im*ortance of music to "orshi*+ @n addition to setting man# *salms to melodies, "hich "ere influential in the ;reat -"a5ening in the >nited :tates, he "rote te4ts for at least three Christmas carols+ 7he best 5no"n "as originall# entitled "6ar5\ 6o" -ll the 2el5in 8ings", later renamed "6ar5\ the 6erald -ngels :ing"+[6( =eli4 Mendelssohn "rote a melod# ada*ted to fit 2esle#'s "ords+ @n -ustria in /,/, Mohr and ;ruber made a maTor addition to the genre "hen the# com*osed ":ilent Aight" for the :t+ Aicholas Church, Oberndorf+ 2illiam :and#s' Christmas Carols #n$ient an! Mo!ern(/,(() contained the first a**earance in *rint of man# no"1classic English carols, and contributed to the mid1Xictorian re$i$al of the festi$al+[6) Com*letel# secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late /,th centur#+ "%ec5 7he 6alls" dates from /!,), and the -merican "Jingle 3ells" "as co*#righted in /,'!+ @n the /.th and &0th centur#, -frican -merican s*irituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of s*irituals, became more "idel# 5no"n+ -n increasing number of seasonal holida#s songs "ere commerciall# *roduced in the &0th centur#, including TaVV and blues $ariations+ @n addition, there "as a re$i$al of interest in earl# music, from grou*s singing fol5 music, such as 7he 8e$els, to *erformers of earl# medie$al and classical music+ Traditional cuisine - s*ecial Christmas famil# meal is traditionall# an im*ortant *art of the holida#'s celebration, and the food that is ser$ed $aries greatl# from countr# to countr#+ :ome regions, such as :icil#, ha$e s*ecial meals for Christmas E$e, "hen /& 5inds of fish are ser$ed+ @n the >nited Uingdom and countries influenced b# its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes tur5e# or goose, meat, gra$#, *otatoes, $egetables, sometimes bread and cider+ :*ecial desserts are also *re*ared, such as Christmas *udding, mince *ies, and fruit ca5e+[6' [66 @n ?oland and other *arts of eastern Euro*e and :candina$ia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingl# ser$ed+ @n ;erman#, =rance, and -ustria, goose and *or5 are fa$ored+ 3eef, ham, and chic5en in $arious reci*es are *o*ular throughout the "orld+ 7he Maltese traditionall# ser$e %m&ul'uta tal()astan,[6! a chocolate and chestnuts be$erage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season+ :lo$a5s *re*are the traditional Christmas bread *otica, &*$he !e Nol in =rance, +anettonein @tal#, and elaborate tarts and ca5es+ 7he eating of s"eets and chocolates has become *o*ular "orld"ide, and s"eeter Christmas delicacies include the ;erman stollen, marVi*an ca5e

or cand#, and Jamaican rum fruit ca5e+ -s one of the fe" fruits traditionall# a$ailable to northern countries in "inter, oranges ha$e been long associated "ith s*ecial Christmas foods+ Cards Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting e4changed bet"een friends and famil# members during the "ee5s *receding Christmas %a#+ 7he traditional greeting reads ""ishing #ou a Merr# Christmas and a 6a**# Ae" Sear", much li5e that of the first commercial Christmas card, *roduced b# :ir 6enr# Cole in Qondon in /,)(+[6, 7he custom of sending them has become *o*ular among a "ide cross1 section of *eo*le "ith the emergence of the modern trend to"ards e4changing E1cards+ Christmas cards are *urchased in considerable <uantities, and feature art"or5, commerciall# designed and rele$ant to the season+ 7he content of the design might relate directl# to the Christmas narrati$e "ith de*ictions of the Aati$it# of Jesus, or Christian s#mbols such as the :tar of 3ethlehem, or a "hite do$e "hich can re*resent both the 6ol# :*irit and?eace on Earth+ Other Christmas cards are more secular and can de*ict Christmas traditions, m#thical figures such as :anta Claus, obTects directl# associated "ith Christmas such as candles, holl# and baubles, or a $ariet# of images associated "ith the season, such as Christmastide acti$ities, sno" scenes and the "ildlife of the northern "inter+ 7here are e$en humorous cards and genres de*icting nostalgic scenes of the *ast such as crinolined sho**ers in idealiVed /.th centur# streetsca*es+ :ome *refer cards "ith a *oem, *ra#er, or 3iblical $erse9 "hile others distance themsel$es from religion "ith an all1inclusi$e ":eason's greetings"+ Commemorati e stam!s - number of nations ha$e issued commemorati$e stam*s at Christmastide+ ?ostal customers "ill often use these stam*s to mail Christmas cards, and the# are *o*ular "ith*hilatelists+ 7hese stam*s are regular *ostage stam*s, unli5e Christmas seals, and are $alid for *ostage #ear1round+ 7he# usuall# go on sale some time bet"een earl# October and earl# %ecember, and are *rinted in considerable <uantities+ @n /,., a Canadian stam* "as issued to mar5 the inauguration of the @m*erial ?enn# ?ostage rate+ 7he stam* features a ma* of the globe and bears an inscri*tion "RM-: /,.," at the bottom+ @n /.(!, -ustria issued t"o "Christmas greeting stam*s" featuring a rose and the signs of the Vodiac+ @n /.(., 3raVil issued four semi1*ostal stam*s "ith designs featuring the three 5ings and a star of 3ethlehem, an angel and child, the :outhern Cross and a child, and a mother and child+ 3oth the >: ?ostal :er$ice and the 8o#al Mail regularl# issue Christmas1themed stam*s each #ear+ "i#t gi ing 7he e4changing of gifts is one of the core as*ects of the modern Christmas celebration, ma5ing it the most *rofitable time of #ear for retailers and businesses throughout the "orld+ ;ift gi$ing "as common in the 8oman celebration of :aturnalia, an ancient festi$al "hich too5 *lace in late %ecember and ma# ha$e influenced Christmas customs+[6. On Christmas, *eo*le e4change gifts based on the tradition associated "ith :t+ Aicholas,[!0 and the gifts of gold, fran5incense, and m#rrh "hich "ere gi$en to the bab# Jesus b# theMagi+[!/ [!& "i#t$bearing #igures - number of figures are associated "ith Christmas and the seasonal gi$ing of gifts+ -mong these are =ather Christmas, also 5no"n as:anta Claus (deri$ed from the %utch for :aint Aicholas), ?Yre Ao]l, and the 2eihnachtsmann9 :aint Aicholas or :inter5laas9 theChrist5ind9 Uris Uringle9 Joulu*u55i9 3abbo Aatale9 :aint 3asil9 and =ather =rost+ 7he best 5no"n of these figures toda# is red1dressed :anta Claus, of di$erse origins+ 7he name :anta Claus can be traced bac5 to the %utch ,inter-laas, "hich means sim*l# :aint Aicholas+ Aicholas "as 3isho* of M#ra, in modern1da# 7ur5e#, during the )th centur#+ -mong other saintl# attributes, he "as noted for the care of children, generosit#, and the gi$ing of gifts+ 6is feast on %ecember 6 came to be celebrated in man# countries "ith the gi$ing of gifts+[!( :aint Aicholas traditionall# a**eared in bisho*'s attire, accom*anied b# hel*ers, in<uiring about the beha$iour of children during the *ast #ear before deciding "hether the# deser$ed a gift or not+ 3# the /(th centur#, :aint Aicholas "as "ell 5no"n in the Aetherlands, and the *ractice of gift1gi$ing in his name s*read to other *arts of central and southern Euro*e+ -t the 8eformation in /6th[/!th1centur# Euro*e,

man# ?rotestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christ-in!l, corru*ted in English to Uris Uringle, and the date of gi$ing gifts changed from %ecember 6 to Christmas E$e+[!( 7he modern *o*ular image of :anta Claus, ho"e$er, "as created in the >nited :tates, and in *articular in Ae" Sor5+ 7he transformation "as accom*lished "ith the aid of notable contributors including 2ashington @r$ing and the ;erman1-merican cartoonist 7homas Aast(/,)0[/.0&)+ =ollo"ing the -merican 8e$olutionar# 2ar, some of the inhabitants of Ae" Sor5 Cit# sought out s#mbols of the cit#'s non1English *ast+ Ae" Sor5 had originall# been established as the %utch colonial to"n of Ae" -msterdam and the %utch :inter5laas tradition "as rein$ented as :aint Aicholas+[!) @n /,0., the Ae"1Sor5 6istorical :ociet# con$ened and retroacti$el# named ,an$te Claus the *atron saint of Aieu" -msterdam, the%utch name for Ae" Sor5 Cit#+[!' -t his first -merican a**earance in /,/0, :anta Claus "as dra"n in bisho*s' robes+ 6o"e$er as ne" artists too5 o$er, :anta Claus de$elo*ed more secular attire+ [!6 Aast dre" a ne" image of ":anta Claus" annuall#, beginning in /,6(+ 3# the /,,0s, Aast's :anta had e$ol$ed into the robed, fur clad, form "e no" recogniVe, *erha*s based on the English figure of =ather Christmas+ 7he image "as standardiVed b# ad$ertisers in the /.&0s [!! and continues through the *resent da#: indeed, some ha$e made a career out of *ortra#ing :anta Claus, *articularl# if the# are slightl# o$er"eight middle aged men "ith beards and a Toll# dis*osition+[!, [!. =ather Christmas, a Toll#, "ell nourished, bearded man "ho t#*ified the s*irit of good cheer at Christmas, *redates the :anta Claus character+ 6e is first recorded in earl# /!th centur# England, but "as associated "ith holida# merr#ma5ing and drun5enness rather than the bringing of gifts+['( @n Xictorian 3ritain, his image "as remade to match that of :anta+ 7he =rench ?Yre Ao]l e$ol$ed along similar lines, e$entuall# ado*ting the :anta image+ @n @tal#, 3abbo Aatale acts as :anta Claus, "hile Qa 3efana is the bringer of gifts and arri$es on the e$e of the E*i*han#+ @t is said that Qa 3efana set out to bring the bab# Jesus gifts, but got lost along the "a#+ Ao", she brings gifts to all children+ @n some cultures :anta Claus is accom*anied b# Unecht 8u*recht, or 3lac5 ?eter+ @n other $ersions, el$es ma5e the to#s+ 6is "ife is referred to as Mrs+ Claus+ 7here has been some o**osition to the narrati$e of the -merican e$olution of :aint Aicholas into the modern :anta+ @t has been claimed that the :aint Aicholas :ociet# "as not founded until /,(', almost half a centur# after the end of the -merican 2ar of @nde*endence+ [,0 Moreo$er, a stud# of the "children's boo5s, *eriodicals and Tournals" of Ae" -msterdam b# Charles Jones re$ealed no references to :aint Aicholas or :inter5laas+[,/ 6o"e$er, not all scholars agree "ith Jones's findings, "hich he reiterated in a boo5length stud# in /.!,9[,& 6o"ard ;+ 6ageman, of Ae" 3runs"ic5 7heological :eminar#, maintains that the tradition of celebrating :inter5laas in Ae" Sor5 "as ali$e and "ell from the earl# settlement of the 6udson Xalle# on+[,( Current tradition in se$eral Qatin -merican countries (such as XeneVuela and Colombia) holds that "hile :anta ma5es the to#s, he then gi$es them to the 3ab# Jesus, "ho is the one "ho actuall# deli$ers them to the children's homes, a reconciliation bet"een traditional religious beliefs and the iconogra*h# of :anta Claus im*orted from the >nited :tates+ @n :outh 7#rol (@tal#), -ustria, CVech 8e*ublic, :outhern ;erman#, 6ungar#, Qiechtenstein, :lo$a5ia, and :"itVerland, theChrist5ind (Je^_`e5 in CVech, JaVus5a in 6ungarian and Je^i`5o in :lo$a5) brings the *resents+ ;ree5 children get their *resents from :aint 3asil on Ae" Sear's E$e, the e$e of that saint's liturgical feast+ [,) 7he ;erman :t+ Ai5olaus is not identical "ith the 2eihnachtsmann ("ho is the ;erman $ersion of :anta Claus b =ather Christmas)+ :t+ Ai5olaus "ears a bisho*'s dress and still brings small gifts (usuall# candies, nuts, and fruits) on %ecember 6 and is accom*anied b# Unecht 8u*recht+ -lthough man# *arents around the "orld routinel# teach their children about :anta Claus and other gift bringers, some ha$e come to reTect this *ractice, considering it dece*ti$e+

Date o# celebration @renaeus (c+ /(0[&0&) $ie"ed Christ's conce*tion as March &' in association "ith the ?assion, "ith the nati$it# nine months after on %ecember &'+[,6 6i**ol#tus of 8ome (/!0[&(') ma# also ha$e identified %ecember &' for the birth of Jesus and March &' for the conce*tion+ [! [,! :e4tus Julius -fricanus (c+ /60[c+ &)0) identified %ecember &', later to become the most "idel# acce*ted date of celebration, as the date Jesus' birth in &&/+[,, 7he *recise origin of assigning %ecember &' to the birth of Jesus is unclear+


Xarious dates "ere s*eculated: Ma# &0, -*ril /, or /., March &', Januar# &, Ao$ember /! or &0+ [! [,. 2hen celebration on a *articular date began, Januar# 6 *re$ailed at least in the East9 [.0 but, e4ce*t among -rmenians (the -rmenian -*ostolic Church and the -rmenian Catholic Church), "ho continue to celebrate the birth on Januar# 6, %ecember &' e$entuall# "on acce*tance e$er#"here+[,. 7he Ae" 7estament ;os*el of Qu5e ma# indirectl# gi$e the date as %ecember for the birth of Jesus, "ith the si4th month of EliVabeth's *regnanc# "ith John the 3a*tist cited b#John Chr#sostom (c+ (,6) as a date for the -nnunciation+[! [&0 [./ [.& 7ertullian (d+ &&0) did not mention Christmas as a maTor feast da# in the Church of 8oman -frica+[! @nChrono.ra+hai, a reference "or5 *ublished in &&/, :e4tus Julius -fricanus suggested that Jesus "as concei$ed on the s*ring e<uino4+[.( [.) 7he e<uino4 "as March &' on the 8oman calendar, so this im*lied a birth in %ecember+[.' 7he birth of Jesus "as announced in Qu5e &://, "=or unto #ou is born this da# in the cit# of %a$id a :a$iour, "hich is Christ the Qord+" Moreo$er, the belief that ;od came into the "orld in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanit# is considered to be the *rimar# *ur*ose in celebrating Christmas+ [.6
[.! [.,

@n the earl# )th centur#, the church calendar in 8ome contained Christmas on %ecember &' and other holida#s *laced on solar dates+ -ccording to 6iTmans [.. "@t is cosmic s#mbolism+++"hich ins*ired the Church leadershi* in 8ome to elect the southern solstice, %ecember &', as the birthda# of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the 3a*tist, su**lemented b# the e<uino4es as their res*ecti$e dates of conce*tion+" >sener[/00 and others[&! *ro*osed that the Christians chose this da# because it "as the 8oman feast celebrating the birthda# of :ol @n$ictus+ Modern scholar :+ E+ 6iTmans, ho"e$er, states that "2hile the# "ere a"are that *agans called this da# the 'birthda#' of :ol @n$ictus, this did not concern them and it did not *la# an# role in their choice of date for Christmas+"[.. -round the #ear (,6 John Chr#sostom deli$ered a sermon in -ntioch in fa$our of ado*ting the &' %ecember celebration also in the East, since, he said, the conce*tion of Jesus (Qu5e /:&6) had been announced during the si4th month of Elisabeth's *regnanc# "ith John the 3a*tist (Qu5e /:/01/(), "hich he dated from the duties cacharias *erformed on the %a# of -tonement during the se$enth month of the 6ebre" calendar Ethanim or 7ishri (Qe$iticus /6:&., / Uings ,:&) "hich falls from late :e*tember to earl# October+[! 7hat she*herds "atched the floc5s b# night in the fields in the "inter time is su**orted b# the *hrase "frost b# night" in ;enesis (/:(,1)0+ - s*ecial grou* 5no"n as the she*herds ofMigdal Eder (;enesis (':/.1&/, Micah ):,) "atched the floc5s b# night #ear round *astured for 7em*le :acrifice near 3ethlehem+[./ [/0/ @n the earl# /,th centur#, some scholars *ro*osed alternati$e e4*lanations+ @saac Ae"ton argued that the date of Christmas, celebrating the birth of him "hom Christians consider to be the ":un of righteousness" *ro*hesied in Malachi ):&,[&/ "as selected to corres*ond "ith the southern solstice, "hich the 8omans called &ruma, celebrated on %ecember &'+[/0& @n /!)(, ;erman ?rotestant ?aul Ernst Jablons5i argued Christmas "as *laced on %ecember &' to corres*ond "ith the 8oman solar holida# /ies Natalis ,olis %nvi$ti and "as therefore a "*aganiVation" that debased the true church+ [&) @t has been argued that, on the contrar#, the Em*eror -urelian, "ho in &!) instituted the holida# of the /ies Natalis ,olis %nvi$ti, did so *artl# as an attem*t to gi$e a *agan significance to a date alread# im*ortant for Christians in 8ome+ [/0( @n /,,., Qouis %uchesne *ro*osed that the date of Christmas "as calculated as nine months after the -nnunciation, the traditional date of the conce*tion of Jesus+[/0) [&0 %sing the Julian calendar and the re ised Julian calendar Eastern Orthodo4 national churches, including those of 8ussia, ;eorgia, >5raine, Macedonia, Montenegro, :erbia, and the ;ree5 ?atriarchate of Jerusalem mar5 feasts using the older Julian calendar+ %ecember &' on the Julian calendar currentl# corres*onds to Januar# ! on the internationall# used ;regorian calendar+ 6o"e$er, other Orthodo4 Christians, such as the churches of 3ulgaria, ;reece, 8omania, -ntioch, -le4andria, -lbania, =inland, and the Orthodo4 Church in -merica, among others, began using the 8e$ised Julian calendar in the earl# &0th centur#, "hich corres*onds e4actl# to the ;regorian calendar+[' History 7he Chronogra*h# of (') -% contains earl# e$idence of the celebration on %ecember &' of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus+ 7his "as in 8ome, "hile in Eastern Christianit# the birth of

Jesus "as alread# celebrated in connection "ith the E*i*han# on Januar# 6+[/06 [/0! 7he %ecember &' celebration "as im*orted into the East later: in -ntioch b# John Chr#sostom to"ards the end of the )th centur#,[/0! *robabl# in (,,, and in -le4andria onl# in the follo"ing centur#+ [/0, E$en in the 2est, the Januar# 6 celebration of the nati$it# of Jesus seems to ha$e continued until after (,0+ [/0. @n &)', Origen of -le4andria, "riting about Qe$iticus /&:/[,, commented that :cri*ture mentions onl# sinners as $ele&ratin. their birthda#s, namel# ?haraoh, "ho then had his chief ba5er hanged (;enesis )0:&0[&&), and 6erod, "ho then had John the 3a*tist beheaded (Mar5 6:&/[&!), and mentions saints as $ursin. the da# of their birth, namel# Jeremiah (Jeremiah &0:/)[/') and Job (Job (:/[/6)+[//0 @n (0(, -rnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthda#s of gods, a *assage cited as e$idence that -rnobius "as una"are of an# nati$it# celebration+ [/// :ince Christmas does not celebrate Christ's birth "as ;od" but "as man", this is not e$idence against Christmas being a feast at this time+ [! 7he fact the %onatists of Aorth -frica celebrated Christmas ma# indicate that the feast "as established b# the time that church "as created in (//+ Man# *o*ular customs associated "ith Christmas de$elo*ed inde*endentl# of the commemoration of Jesus' birth, "ith certain elements ha$ing origins in *re1Christian festi$als that "ere celebrated around the "inter solstice b# *agan *o*ulations "ho "ere later con$erted to Christianit#+ 7hese elements, including the Sule log from Sule and gift gi$ing from:aturnalia,[6. became s#ncretiVed into Christmas o$er the centuries+ 7he *re$ailing atmos*here of Christmas has also continuall# e$ol$ed since the holida#'s ince*tion, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drun5en, carni$al1li5e state in the Middle -ges,[//& to a tamer famil#1oriented and children1centered theme introduced in a /.th1centur# reformation+[//( [//) -dditionall#, the celebration of Christmas "as banned on more than one occasion "ithin certain ?rotestant grou*s, such as the ?uritans, due to concerns that it "as too *agan or unbiblical+[//' [//6 Relation to concurrent celebrations ?rior to and through the earl# Christian centuries, "inter festi$alsdes*eciall# those centered on the "inter solsticed"ere the most *o*ular of the #ear in man# Euro*ean *agan cultures+ 8easons included the fact that less agricultural "or5 needs to be done during the "inter, as "ell as an e4*ectation of better "eather as s*ring a**roached+[//, Man# modern Christmas customs ha$e been directl# influenced b# such festi$als, including gift1gi$ing and merr#ma5ing from the 8oman :aturnalia, greener#, lights, and charit# from the 8oman Ae" Sear, and Sule logs and $arious foods from ;ermanic feasts+[//. ?agan :candina$ia celebrated a "inter festi$al called Sule, held in the late %ecember to earl# Januar# *eriod+[/&0 -s northern Euro*e"as the last *art to ChristianiVe, its *agan traditions had a maTor influence on Christmas there, an e4am*le being the Uoleda,[/&/ "hich "as incor*orated into the Christmas carol+ :candina$ians still call Christmas Jul+ @n English, the "ord Sule is s#non#mous "ith Christmas,[/&& a usage first recorded in .00+ Dies Natalis Solis Invicti /ies Natalis ,olis %nvi$ti means "the birthda# of the uncon<uered sun"+ :ome earl# Christian "riters connected the sun to Jesus, "ho the# belie$ed "as *ro*hesied in Malachi ):& as the ":un of 8ighteousness" (,ol %ustitiae)+ @n his "or5 #!versus 0aereses, @renaeus(c+ /(0[&0&), "ho "as a hearer of ?ol#car*,[/&( a disci*le of John the -*ostle,[/&) $ie"ed the conce*tion of Jesus as March &' in association "ith the ?assion, "ith the birth of Jesus nine months after on %ecember &'+ [,6 7he conce*tion of Jesus, 5no"n as the -nnunication, became associated "ith the "s*ring e<uino4" "hile Christmas "as thought to coincide "ith the ""inter solstice"+[,6 - later "or5 b# an anon#mous author 5no"n as /e 1asha Com+utus (&)() associated the idea that creation began on &' March (the first da# of the "ee5, :unda#) "ith the conce*tion or birth of Jesus on &, March, the da# of the creation of the sun (the fourth da# of the "ee5, 2ednesda#)+ One translation reads: "O the s*lendid and di$ine *ro$idence of the Qord, that on that da#, the $er# da#, on "hich the sun "as made, the &, March, a 2ednesda#, Christ should be born+ =or this reason Malachi the *ro*het, s*ea5ing about him to the *eo*le, fittingl# said, '>nto #ou shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his "ings+'"[! [/&' 7he de*onent $erb (nas$or), "ith itsinchoati$e infi4 (s$), at issue in /e 1asha Com+utus can connote conce*tion or birth, thus the rendering is uncertain "ith some scholars fa$oring conce*tion+[,, [/&' [/&6 @n the fourth centur#, John Chr#sostom, "ho *romoted the celebration on &' %ecember, commented on the connection: "3ut Our Qord, too, is born in the month of %ecember +++ the eight before

the calends of Januar# [&' %ecember +++, 3ut the# call it the '3irthda# of the >ncon<uered'+ 2ho indeed is so uncon<uered as Our Qord +++e Or, if the# sa# that it is the birthda# of the :un, 6e is the :un of Justice+"[! 2ith regard to a %ecember religious feast of the sun as a god (:ol), as distinct from a solstice feast of the (re)birth of the astronomical sun, some scholars ha$e commented that, ""hile the "inter solstice on or around %ecember &' "as "ell established in the 8oman im*erial calendar, there is no e$idence that a religious celebration of :ol on that da# antedated the celebration of Christmas"+ [/&! "7homas 7alle# has sho"n that, although the Em*eror -urelian's dedication of a tem*le to the sun god in the Cam*us Martius (C+E+ &!)) *robabl# too5 *lace on the '3irthda# of the @n$incible :un' on %ecember &', the cult of the sun in *agan 8ome ironicall# did not celebrate the "inter solstice nor an# of the other <uarter1tense da#s, as one might e4*ect+"[,6 7he 234or! Com+anion to Christian remar5s on the uncertaint# about the order of *recedence bet"een the religious celebrations of the 3irthda# of the >ncon<uered :un and of the birthda# of Jesus, stating that the h#*othesis that &' %ecember "as chosen for celebrating the birth of Jesus on the basis of the belief that his conce*tion occurred on &' March "*otentiall# establishes &' %ecember as a Christian festi$al before -urelian's decree, "hich, "hen *romulgated, might ha$e *ro$ided for the Christian feast both o**ortunit# and challenge"+[/&, &east established 7he Chronogra*h# of ('), an illuminated manuscri*t com*iled in 8ome, is an earl# reference to the date of the nati$it# as %ecember &'+[/&. @n the East, earl# Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as *art of E*i*han# (Januar# 6), although this festi$al em*hasiVed celebration of the ba*tism of Jesus+[/(0 Christmas "as *romoted in the Christian East as *art of the re$i$al of Catholicism follo"ing the death of the *ro1-rian Em*eror Xalens at the 3attle of -driano*le in (!,+ 7he feast "as introduced to Constantino*le in (!., and to -ntioch in about (,0+ 7he feast disa**eared after ;regor# of AaVianVus resigned as bisho* in (,/, although it "as reintroduced b#John Chr#sostom in about )00+[! Middle Ages @n the Earl# Middle -ges, Christmas %a# "as o$ershado"ed b# E*i*han#, "hich in "estern Christianit# focused on the $isit of the magi+ 3ut the medie$al calendar "as dominated b# Christmas1 related holida#s+ 7he fort# da#s before Christmas became the "fort# da#s of :t+ Martin" ("hich began on Ao$ember //, the feast of :t+ Martin of 7ours), no" 5no"n as -d$ent+[//& @n @tal#, former :aturnalian traditions "ere attached to -d$ent+[//& -round the /&th centur#, these traditions transferred again to the 7"el$e %a#s of Christmas (%ecember &' [ Januar# ')9 a time that a**ears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or 7"el$e 6ol# %a#s+[//& 7he *rominence of Christmas %a# increased graduall# after Charlemagne "as cro"ned Em*eror on Christmas %a# in ,00+ Uing Edmund the Mart#r "as anointed on Christmas in ,'' and Uing 2illiam @ of England "as cro"ned on Christmas %a# /066+ 3# the 6igh Middle -ges, the holida# had become so *rominent that chroniclers routinel# noted "here $arious magnates celebrated Christmas+ Uing 8ichard @@ of England hosted a Christmas feast in /(!! at "hich t"ent#1eight o4en and three hundred shee* "ere eaten+ [//& 7he Sule boar "as a common feature of medie$al Christmas feasts+ Caroling also became *o*ular, and "as originall# a grou* of dancers "ho sang+ 7he grou* "as com*osed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that *ro$ided the chorus+ Xarious "riters of the time condemned caroling as le"d, indicating that the unrul# traditions of :aturnalia and Sule ma# ha$e continued in this form+[//& "Misrule"ddrun5enness, *romiscuit#, gamblingd"as also an im*ortant as*ect of the festi$al+ @n England, gifts "ere e4changed on Ae" Sear's %a#, and there "as s*ecial Christmas ale+[//& Christmas during the Middle -ges "as a *ublic festi$al that incor*orated i$#, holl#, and other e$ergreens+[/(/ Christmas gift1gi$ing during the Middle -ges "as usuall# bet"een *eo*le "ith legal relationshi*s, such as tenant and landlord+[/(/ 7he annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, s*orting, and card *la#ing escalated in England, and b# the /!th centur# the Christmas season featured la$ish dinners, elaborate mas<ues, and *ageants+ @n /60!, Uing James @ insisted that a *la# be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games+ [/(& @t "as during the 8eformation in /6th[/!th1centur# Euro*e that man# ?rotestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christ-in!l, and the date of gi$ing gifts changed from %ecember 6 to Christmas E$e+[!(

Re#ormation into the '(th century =ollo"ing the ?rotestant 8eformation, grou*s such as the ?uritans strongl# condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic in$ention and the "tra**ings of *o*er#" or the "rags of the 3east"+[//' 7he Catholic Church res*onded b# *romoting the festi$al in a more religiousl# oriented form+ Uing Charles @ of England directed his noblemen and gentr# to return to their landed estates in mid"inter to 5ee* u* their old st#le Christmas generosit#+ [/(& =ollo"ing the ?arliamentarian $ictor# o$er Charles @ during the English Ci$il 2ar, England's ?uritan rulers banned Christmas in /6)!+[//' ?rotests follo"ed as *ro1Christmas rioting bro5e out in se$eral cities and for "ee5s Canterbur# "as controlled b# the rioters, "ho decorated door"a#s "ith holl# and shouted ro#alist slogans+[//' 7he boo5, 5he 6in!i$ation o4 Christmas (Qondon, /6'&), argued against the ?uritans, and ma5es note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast a**les on the fire, card *la#ing, dances "ith "*lo"1bo#s" and "maidser$ants", and carol singing+[/(( 7he 8estoration of Uing Charles @@ in /660 ended the ban, but man# clerg#men still disa**ro$ed of Christmas celebration+ @n :cotland, the ?resb#terian Church of :cotland also discouraged the obser$ance of Christmas, and though James X@ commanded its celebration in /6/,, attendance at church "as scant+[/() 7he ?arliament of :cotland officiall# abolished the obser$ance of Christmas in /6)0, claiming that the church had been "*urged of all su*erstitious obser$ation of da#s"+ [/(' @t "as not until /.', that Christmas again became a :cottish *ublic holida#+[/(6 @n Colonial -merica, the ?uritans of Ae" England shared radical ?rotestant disa**ro$al of Christmas+ Celebration "as outla"ed in3oston from /6'. to /6,/+ 7he ban b# the ?ilgrims "as re$o5ed in /6,/ b# English go$ernor :ir Edmund -ndros, ho"e$er it "as not until the mid1/.th centur# that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the 3oston region+[//6 -t the same time, Christian residents of Xirginia and Ae" Sor5 obser$ed the holida# freel#+ ?enns#l$ania ;erman :ettlers, *re1eminentl# the Mora$ian settlers of 3ethlehem, AaVareth and QititV in ?enns#l$ania and the 2acho$ia :ettlements in Aorth Carolina, "ere enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas+ 7he Mora$ians in 3ethlehem had the first Christmas trees in -merica as "ell as the first Aati$it# :cenes+ [/(! Christmas fell out of fa$or in the >nited :tates after the -merican 8e$olution, "hen it "as considered an English custom+ [/(, ;eorge 2ashington attac5ed 6essian (;erman) mercenaries on the da# after Christmas during the 3attle of 7renton on %ecember &6, /!!6, Christmas being much more *o*ular in ;erman# than in -merica at this time+ @n the earl# /.th centur#, "riters imagined 7udor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration+ @n /,)(, Charles %ic5ens "rote the no$el # Christmas Carol that hel*ed re$i$e the "s*irit" of Christmas and seasonal merriment+[//( [//) @ts instant *o*ularit# *la#ed a maTor role in *ortra#ing Christmas as a holida# em*hasiVing famil#, good"ill, and com*assion+[/(. %ic5ens sought to construct Christmas as a famil#1centered festi$al of generosit#, in contrast to the communit#1based and church1centered obser$ations, the obser$ance of "hich had d"indled during the late /,th centur# and earl# /.th centur#+[/)0 :u*erim*osing his secular $ision of the holida#, %ic5ens influenced man# as*ects of Christmas that are celebrated toda# in 2estern culture, such as famil# gatherings, seasonal food and drin5, dancing, games, and a festi$e generosit# of s*irit+ [/)/ - *rominent *hrase from the tale, "Merr# Christmas", "as *o*ulariVed follo"ing the a**earance of the stor#+[/)& 7his coincided "ith the a**earance of the O4ford Mo$ement and the gro"th of -nglo1Catholicism, "hich led a re$i$al in traditional rituals and religious obser$ances+[/)( 7he term :crooge became a s#non#m for miser, "ith "3ah\ 6umbug\" dismissi$e of the festi$e [/)) s*irit+ @n /,)(, the first commercial Christmas card "as *roduced b# :ir 6enr# Cole+[/)' 7he re$i$al of the Christmas Carol began "ith 2illiam :and#s "Christmas Carols -ncient and Modern" (/,((), "ith the first a**earance in *rint of ""7he =irst Aoel", "@ :a" 7hree :hi*s", "6ar5 the 6erald -ngels :ing" and ";od 8est Se Merr#, ;entlemen", *o*ulariVed in %ic5ens' "- Christmas Carol"+ @n 3ritain, the Christmas tree "as introduced in the earl# /.th centur# follo"ing the *ersonal union "ith the Uingdom of 6ano$er b# Charlotte of Mec5lenburg1:trelitV, "ife of Uing ;eorge @@@+ @n /,(&, the future Wueen Xictoria "rote about her delight at ha$ing a Christmas tree, hung "ithlights, ornaments, and *resents *laced round it+[/)6 -fter her marriage to her ;erman cousin ?rince -lbert, b# /,)/ the custom became more "ides*read throughout 3ritain+['6

-n image of the 3ritish ro#al famil# "ith their Christmas tree at 2indsor Castle created a sensation "hen it "as *ublished in the %llustrate! 7on!on Ne8s in /,),+ - modified $ersion of this image "as *ublished in the >nited :tates in /,'0+['! [/)! 3# the /,!0s, *utting u* a Christmas tree had become common in -merica+['! @n -merica, interest in Christmas had been re$i$ed in the /,&0s b# se$eral short stories b#2ashington @r$ing "hich a**ear in his 5he ,-et$h 9oo- o4 Geo44re: Cra:on; Gent< and "Old Christmas"+ @r$ing's stories de*icted harmonious "arm1hearted English Christmas festi$ities he e4*erienced "hile sta#ing in -ston 6all, 3irmingham, England, that had largel# been abandoned,[/), and he used the tract 6in!i$ation o4 Christmas (/6'&) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his Tournal as a format for his stories+[/(& @n /,&&, Clement Clar5e Moore "rote the *oem # 6isit =rom ,t< Ni$holas (*o*ularl# 5no"n b# its first line: 58as the 9e4ore Christmas )+[/). 7he *oem hel*ed *o*ulariVe the tradition of e4changing gifts, and seasonal Christmas sho**ing began to assume economic im*ortance+ [/'0 7his also started the cultural conflict of the holida#'s s*iritualism and its commercialism that some see as corru*ting the holida#+ @n her /,'0 boo5 5he =irst Christmas in Ne8 >n.lan!, 6arriet 3eecher :to"e includes a character "ho com*lains that the true meaning of Christmas "as lost in a sho**ing s*ree+[/'/ 2hile the celebration of Christmas "as not #et customar# in some regions in the >+:+, 6enr# 2ads"orth Qongfello" detected "a transition state about Christmas here in Ae" England" in /,'6+ "7he old *uritan feeling *re$ents it from being a cheerful, heart# holida#9 though e$er# #ear ma5es it more so+"[/'& @n 8eading, ?enns#l$ania, a ne"s*a*er remar5ed in /,6/, "E$en our *resb#terian friends "ho ha$e hitherto steadfastl# ignored Christmasdthre" o*en their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anni$ersar# of the :a$ior's birth+"[/'& 7he =irst Congregational Church of 8oc5ford, @llinois, "although of genuine ?uritan stoc5", "as '*re*aring for a grand Christmas Tubilee', a ne"s corres*ondent re*orted in /,6)+ [/'& 3# /,60, fourteen states including se$eral from Ae" England had ado*ted Christmas as a legal holida#+[/'( @n /,!0, Christmas "as formall# declared a >nited :tates =ederal holida#, signed into la" b# ?resident >l#sses :+ ;rant+[/'( :ubse<uentl#, in /,!', Qouis ?rang introduced the Christmas card to -mericans+ 6e has been called the "father of the -merican Christmas card"+[/') Economy Christmas is t#*icall# a *ea5 selling season for retailers in man# nations around the "orld+ :ales increase dramaticall# as *eo*le *urchase gifts, decorations, and su**lies to celebrate+ @n the >+:+, the "Christmas sho**ing season" starts as earl# as October+ [/'' [/'6 @n Canada, merchants begin ad$ertising cam*aigns Tust before 6allo"een (October (/), and ste* u* their mar5eting follo"ing 8emembrance %a# on Ao$ember //+ @n the >U and @reland, the Christmas sho**ing season starts from mid Ao$ember, around the time "hen high street Christmas lights are turned on+[/'! [/', @n the >nited :tates, it has been calculated that a <uarter of all *ersonal s*ending ta5es *lace during the Christmasbholida# sho**ing season+ [/'. =igures from the >+:+ Census 3ureau re$eal that e4*enditure in de*artment stores nation"ide rose from f&0+, billion in Ao$ember &00) to f(/+. billion in %ecember &00), an increase of ') *ercent+ @n other sectors, the *re1Christmas increase in s*ending "as e$en greater, there being a Ao$ember[%ecember bu#ing surge of /00 *ercent in boo5stores and /!0 *ercent in Te"elr# stores+ @n the same #ear em*lo#ment in -merican retail stores rose from /+6 million to /+, million in the t"o months leading u* to Christmas+ [/60 @ndustries com*letel# de*endent on Christmas include Christmas cards, of "hich /+. billion are sent in the >nited :tates each #ear, and li$e Christmas 7rees, of "hich &0+, million "ere cut in the >+:+ in &00&+ [/6/ @n the >U in &0/0, u* to g, billion "as e4*ected to be s*ent online at Christmas, a**ro4imatel# a <uarter of total retail festi$e sales+[/', @n most 2estern nations, Christmas %a# is the least acti$e da# of the #ear for business and commerce9 almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease acti$it# (more than an# other da# of the #ear), "hether la"s re<uire such or not+ @n England and 2ales, the Christmas %a# (7rading) -ct &00) *re$ents all large sho*s from trading on Christmas %a#+ :cotland is currentl# *lanning similar legislation+ =ilm studios release man# high1budget mo$ies during the holida# season, including Christmas films, fantas# mo$ies or high1tone dramas "ith high *roduction $alues to ho*es of ma4imiVing the chance of nominations for the -cadem# -"ards+

One economist's anal#sis calculates that, des*ite increased o$erall s*ending, Christmas is a dead"eight loss under orthodo4microeconomic theor#, because of the effect of gift1gi$ing+ 7his loss is calculated as the difference bet"een "hat the gift gi$er s*ent on the item and "hat the gift recei$er "ould ha$e *aid for the item+ @t is estimated that in &00/, Christmas resulted in a f) billion dead"eight loss in the >+:+ alone+[/6& [/6( 3ecause of com*licating factors, this anal#sis is sometimes used to discuss *ossible fla"s in current microeconomic theor#+ Other dead"eight losses include the effects of Christmas on the en$ironment and the fact that material gifts are often *ercei$ed as "hite ele*hants, im*osing cost for u*5ee* and storage and contributing to clutter+[/6) Controversies Christmas has at times been the subTect of contro$ers# and attac5s from $arious sources+ - ?uritan1 led contro$ers# began during the English @nterregnum, "hen England "as ruled b# a ?uritan ?arliament+ [/6' ?uritans sought to remo$e the remaining *agan elements of Christmas+ %uring this brief *eriod, the ?uritan1led English ?arliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirel#, considering it "a *o*ish festi$al "ith no biblical Tustification", and a time of "asteful and immoral beha$ior+ [/66 @n Colonial -merica, the ?uritans outla"ed celebration of Christmas in /6'.+[/6! Christians and defenders of religious freedom such as the -merican Center for Qa" and Justice cite attac5s on Christmas (dubbed a ""ar on Christmas")+[/6, [/6. [/!0 One contro$ers# is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed 6olida# trees+[/6. @n the >nited :tates there has been a tendenc# to re*lace the greeting Merr: Christmas "ith0a++: 0oli!a:s+[/!/ ;rou*s such as the -merican Ci$il Qiberties >nion ha$e initiated court cases to bar the dis*la# of images and other material referring to Christmas from *ublic *ro*ert#, including schools+[/!& :uch grou*s argue that go$ernment1funded dis*la#s of Christmas imager# and traditions $iolate the =irst -mendment to the >nited :tates Constitution, "hich *rohibits the establishment b# Congress of a national religion+ [/!( @n /.,), the >+:+ :u*reme Court ruled in 7:n$h vs< /onnell: that a Christmas dis*la# ("hich included a Aati$it# scene) o"ned and dis*la#ed b# the cit# of ?a"tuc5et, 8hode @sland, did not $iolate the =irst -mendment+[/!) @n Ao$ember &00., the =ederal a**eals court in ?hiladel*hia endorsed a school district's ban on the singing of Christmas carols+[/!' 7he >: :u*reme Court declined to hear an a**eal+ [/!6 @n the *ri$ate s*here also, it has been alleged that an# s*ecific mention of the term "Christmas" or its religious as*ects "as being increasingl# censored, a$oided, or discouraged b# a number of ad$ertisers and retailers+ @n res*onse, the -merican =amil# -ssociation and other grou*s ha$e organiVed bo#cotts of indi$idual retailers+[/!! @n the >nited Uingdom there ha$e been some minor contro$ersies, one of the most famous being the tem*orar# *romotion of the Christmas *eriod as 2inter$al b# 3irmingham Cit# Council in /..,+ [/!, Critics attac5ed the use of the "ord 2inter$al as *olitical correctness gone mad, accusing council officials of tr#ing to ta5e the Christ out of Christmas+ [/!, 7he council res*onded to the criticism b# stating that Christmas1related "ords and s#mbols "ere *rominent in its *ublicit# material+ [/!, 7here "ere also *rotests in Ao$ember &00. "hen the cit# council of %undee *romoted its celebrations as the ?inter 4estival, initiall# "ith no s*ecific Christmas references+[/!.