Celebrated on December 25th, Christmas is one of the most joyful holidays. It is a special time that brings friends and families together to exchange gifts, enjoy delicious meals, listen Christmas music, sing Christmas carols, and celebrate the holiday season together.
From a historical point of view, Christmas is often associated with the Christian faith as it marks the birth of Jesus Christ who is considered as the son of God and prophet of Christianism. That is why many celebratory activities and customs associated with Christmas revolve around religious practices and texts, such as nativity scenes, Christmas caroling and home decorations.
Yet in time, Christmas has taken a more cultural turn: Today many families all around the world approach Christmas as a more secular holiday where they get to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy the traditional customs of the season without necessarily being observant Christians.
Although Christmas traditions vary greatly by country and region, there are certain staples that are common virtually all around the world, such as Christmas decorations. One of the most popular Christmas decorations is, of course, Christmas trees: They are often the centerpiece of all Christmas decorations with their joyful lights, colorful ornaments, and tinsels. Some families make their own ornaments together as a family bonding activity, or value some ornaments as family heirlooms and pass them to next generations. In addition to bringing some spark to Christmas trees, tinsels are used in various spaces to bring the Christmas spirit. Similar to tinsel, lights are also used in different areas such as the exterior of homes, offices, cafes, restaurants, and even shopping malls to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Another popular Christmas decoration is wreaths. They are made of seasonal flowers, branches, and similar decorative items brought together in a circular arrangement. Most people hang wreaths on their doors or walls to make their home feel more festive. Garlands, mistletoes, and hollies are other Christmas plants that can be used in wreaths or hung on the walls and doors.
Often hung by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, stockings are another Christmas staple. The story behind them goes way back in time: Roughly third century AD. Christmas stockings are empty socks or bags shaped like a sock, and they are believed to be filled with toys, candies and small gifts by Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.
The tradition of Christmas stockings is believed to originate in the life of Saint Nicholas. According to the legend, St. Nicholas overheard a poor father telling that he was going to sell his daughter to save his family from starvation. St. Nicholas wanted to offer some money to the family in order to save the poor girl but he knew that the father wouldn’t accept. That is why he decided to help them in secret: On the night of Christmas Eve, he threw three bags of gold from the open window. One of these bags landed in a stocking. Next morning, the family found all the gold and were overjoyed. After that incident, leaving stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve became a tradition.
Today, Christmas stockings of children are filled with small gifts, chocolate, and candy by their parents. Sometimes, Christmas presents are hidden in these stockings as well. If the present is too big to fit into the stocking, it can be placed under the Christmas tree.
Another Christmas decoration often seen outdoors is nativity scenes where the birth of Jesus Christ is depicted using figures of prominent religious personalities such as Mary, baby Jesus, and Joseph.