Christmas is a time for Families, Fun, and Festivities! A time of family gatherings and holiday meals. A time for Santa, stars, and singing carolers. A time for ornaments, gifts, and twinkling lights. Of sleigh rides, hot cocoa, and gingerbread cookies.
At its core, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. The holiday's connection to Christ is obvious through its Old English root of "Cristes maesse" or Christ's Mass. For Christians, it is the time to renew one's faith, give generously and consider the past. But Christmas is also a secular celebration of family--one that many non-practicing Christians and people of other religions are comfortable accepting as their own. The secular nature of Christmas was officially acknowledged in 1870 when the United States Congress made it a federal holiday. Federal and state employees and most private businesses observe Dec. 25 by not working.
Christmas is also a fascinating miscellany of traditions: one that combines pre-Christian pagan rituals with modern traditions. Every family that celebrates Christmas has its own customs--some surprisingly universal, others entirely unique--but all comfortably familiar in their seeming antiquity.