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Christmas or Christmas Day is a holiday generally observed on December 25 (with alternative days of January 6, 7 and 19) to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. The exact birthday of Jesus is not known, and historians place his year of birth some time between 7 BC and 2 BC. Narratives of his birth are included in two of the Canonical gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.
The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived, the date of the Roman winter solstice, or one of various ancient winter festivals. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days.
Although nominally a Christian holiday, Christmas is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians worldwide, and many of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, several figures, known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus, among other names, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season.
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.
- ^ a b Christmas as a Multi-faith Festival—BBC News. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
- ^ a b Several traditions of Eastern Christianity that use the Julian calendar also celebrate on December 25 according to that calendar, which is now January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. Armenian Churches observed the nativity on January 6 even before the Gregorian calendar originated. Most Armenian Christians use the Gregorian calendar, still celebrating Christmas Day on January 6. Some Armenian churches use the Julian calendar, thus celebrating Christmas Day on January 19 on the Gregorian calendar, with January 18 being Christmas Eve.
- ^ Ramzy, John. "The Glorious Feast of Nativity: 7 January? 29 Kiahk? 25 December?". Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- ^ a b c "Christmas in Bethlehem".
- ^ Canadian Heritage – Public holidays — Government of Canada. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
- ^ 2009 Federal Holidays — U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
- ^ Bank holidays and British Summer time — HM Government. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
- ^ Christmas, Merriam-Webster. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Christmas", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913.
- ^ a b c McGowan, Andrew. "How December 25 Became Christmas, Biblical Archaeology Review, Retrieved 2009-12-13". Bib-arch.org. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- ^ a b Newton, Isaac, Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733). Ch. XI.
A sun connection is possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the "sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
- ^ a b "Christmas", Encarta
Roll, Susan K., Toward the Origins of Christmas, (Peeters Publishers, 1995), p.130.
Tighe, William J., "Calculating Christmas". Archived 2009-10-31.
- ^ "The Christmas Season". CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- ^ Why I celebrate Christmas, by the world's most famous atheist – DailyMail. December 23, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
- ^ Non-Christians focus on secular side of Christmas — Sioux City Journal. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
- ^ "Poll: In a changing nation, Santa endures", Associated Press, December 22, 2006. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
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