Christmas Day

Christmas Day is on December 25th.

  • Christmas Day is December 25th. However, Christmas is actually 12 days long: it starts on Christmas Day, and finishes on the night of January 5th (some people think it is bad luck to have Christmas decorations up after January 5th). Most people only celebrate Christmas Day.
  • Christmas is a holiday to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday.
  • The night before Christmas is called Christmas Eve.
  • The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. The reason it is called ‘Boxing Day’ is not clear, but churches used to place boxes outside for donations to the poor and needy (another idea is that Boxing Day was the day UK servants got their ‘Christmas boxes’ i.e. gifts).
  • Many Christians go to church at Christmas. ‘Midnight mass’ – the midnight when Christmas Eve turns to Christmas Day – is the most famous.
  • People put a Christmas tree in their house. They decorate the tree, and put a star on the top. Some families put an angel below the star.
  • Children have an ‘advent calendar’ before Christmas. This is a calendar with 24 doors on it. Every day, from December 1st to December 24th, they open one door. Behind the door there is a picture or, in some calendars, a chocolate.
  • Before Christmas, people send Christmas cards. These cards usually wish people ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’.
  • People give each other presents at Christmas. English-speaking countries generally open their presents on Christmas morning, but some European countries open them on Christmas Eve.
  • Children get presents from Father Christmas (Father Christmas is also called Santa Clause, or St. Nicholas). Before they get the presents they often write a letter to Father Christmas saying they have been good, and what presents they would like.
  • The presents are put under the tree, or in a big sock called a stocking.
  • It is traditional to get a clementine (a small orange) in the Christmas stocking.
  • Another tradition is for children to put out food for Father Christmas and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. In the morning the food has gone.
  • People eat a Christmas dinner, usually with their family. Christmas dinners are very big, and have turkey (or goose), and roast vegetables. After dinner there is a dessert called Christmas pudding – a pudding with dried fruit inside that can be set on fire – or a long chocolate cake called a ‘Yule Log’.
  • After Christmas, many children write ‘thank you letters’ to the people who gave them gifts.
  • In many countries Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year. Offices close for a few days, and schools close for one or two weeks.