Although originally a Christian celebration - the commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth - Christmas is also celebrated my many non-Christian as a secular, cultural festival. Interestingly, numerous customs originating from a variety of different celebrations have been merged together to create what we now know as 'traditional Christmas' customs. Many of the modern customs actually originate from pagan traditions, such as the yule log and the Christmas tree.
To the Christian community, the importance of Christmas Day originates from the birth of Jesus Christ which is celebrated on 25 December (or 7 January), and it marks the beginning of the Christmastide season, which lasts twelve days. This day is also the basis for the anno Domini system of dating, and is thought to have occurred between 7 and 2 BC, although it is now believed that 25 December was not Jesus' actual date of birth but that the day was chosen to correspond with winter solstice.
"Christmas" is a contraction of "Christ's Mass", a phrase first recorded in 1038, which refers to the Mass said to celebrate Christ's birth. It is sometimes shortened to "Xmas" because the Greek letter X (chi) has been used as an abbreviation for "Christ" since the mid-16th century.
Annual Christmas Ornaments
If your family has a Christmas tree in your home, why not start a new tradition that is for keeps?
Give each family member an ornament every year and mark their name and the year on it. When your children eventually leave home, they can take their ornaments with them as fond memories of their childhood Christmas celebrations.
Gift Voucher: Seasons Gr"eat"ings
A gift voucher for a favorite restaurant or indeed some home-made cookies - both make great Christmas gifts and "Seasons Greetings" for family and friends.
Tickets: Special Event
Buy a couple of tickets to your favorite show, concert or movie and add a personalized message for your loved one, saying "To the leading lady in my life" / "To the leading man in my life".
Wooden gingerbread house advent calendar
My mother loves getting her children the one thing they want the most. Well at 35 it was pretty hard to tell her what one gift I wanted more than anything else. Knowing my love of gingerbread decorations, she found this giant, wooden gingerbread house advent calendar that's windows and door open to be filled with candy. I had seen other advent calendars before but none that had openings on all four sides. It is amazing and took me completely by surprise. I love filling it every year.
I'm very passionate about photography and always take my camera with me wherever I go. My daughter shares this interest and had just bought herself a high-quality camera too. For Christmas, she gave me a voucher for a "photography day", inviting me to spend a day with her taking landscape photographs. The card read that instead of just buying something for me, she wanted to give me the most valuable thing she had to offer: her time. I was truly touched by it and we had a great time together!
I have always been very artistic, yet have never been able to afford good, high quality art products. My Mom and I are best friends, and she would often hear me speaking about Prismacolor Markers, and how wonderful they are. For Christmas, she presented them to me, and I almost cried. She always knew to get me the perfect gift, and this gift really made me so excited and I finally felt fulfilled, knowing that I could finally create beautiful artwork. I love my Mom so much, and I will never forget the Christmas she gave me the best gift in the world.
It was not new, it was so ugly, and it was one she had had for a while that sat on the back of her dresser and had dust caked on it. It had no sentimental value and she was just being mean by giving it to me.
A man's thick choker necklace
Well being a woman, I don't typically wear men's jewelry. Obviously my grandma doesn't know the difference, so I had to pretend like I loved it. It was actually rather entertaining. Some of my aunts and uncles and cousins got the giggles.
Hot pink, oversized rayon t-shirt with a harlequin on the front done in sequins and glitter
Apart from the fact that the shirt was absolutely hideous, it was SO not my style. I'm into very quiet, natural clothing, with soft earthy colors and a minimum of embellishment and it was obviously something I'd never actually wear. My father and I don't have a great relationship and I think the shirt was actually chosen to be offensive rather than to be a gift I'd like.
Mistletoe is one of the most sacred plants of European folklore. Believed to bestow life and fertility, it was used to protect against poison and act as an aphrodisiac.
In the Middle Ages branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits, and in Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent witches entering.
The name "Santa Claus" is derived from the Dutch name for St. Nicholas.
The Santa we know today was created largely by the works of Clement Clark Moore, who wrote his poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822 to read to his children on Christmas Eve. It was eventually published without his consent by the New York Sentinel, and became extremely popular. The cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a new Santa image annually from 1863 for Harper's Weekly and is credited with creating much of his current image.
Originally a German tradition, the decorated tree was introduced to England during the Georgian period. It was usual for the tree to be placed in a pot and displayed on a table. Decorated with wax candles, baskets of sweets, little ornaments and flags, it had gifts placed underneath.
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!
Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven's making.
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.