Christmas is a yearly holiday when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus and many families exchange Christmas gifts. It is celebrated on December 25th.
There are many holiday traditions including Christmas dinner, sending Christmas cards, visiting Santa, baking Christmas cookies and making homemade Christmas candies. Homes are decorated inside and out with colorful lights and holiday decorations. People usually try to spread goodwill, compassion and peace during the Christmas holiday season.
Some countries celebrate on Christmas Eve, other on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day, while other countries celebrate Boxing Day on December 26th. One church, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6th. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th. The date is just a tradition and is not considered to be Jesusí actual birth date.
The word "Christmas" actually comes from two words: Christ's mass. Many of the seasons decorations lead back to Christ's birth such as Nativity managers, star ornaments and the giving of gifts.
Christmas day during the Middle ages was more of a festival. King William I of England chose Christmas Day to be crowned king in 800.
During the Reformation, Protestants condemned the celebration of Christmas as mere trappings, while Catholics promoted the festival as a religious event.
Colonial America saw the Puritans disapproving of the trappings of the Christmas celebration and it was outlawed in Boston in 1659 to 1681. However Christian residents of Virginia and New York celebrated the holiday.
Charles Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol", published in 1843 did much to revive the holiday that was to instill goodwill and compassion. Washington Irving also wrote short stories about Christmas and the "Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem by Clement Clarke.
There was great controversy in the 20th century over the nature of Christmas (was it a religious holiday or was it a secular holiday). The issue was brought to trial several times to decide because of the view that a federal holiday was a violation of separation of church and state. On December 6th, 1999, the verdict for Ganulin vs. United States declared that "the establishment of Christmas Day as "a legal public holiday does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a secular purpose." This decision was later upheld on December 19, 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many Christians believe the holiday has become too secular and it is common to hear cries of "getting back to the true meaning of Christmas" around the holidays.