Perhaps the most important holiday in the Western world, Christmas Day began as a celebration to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is typically celebrated on December 25th each year, although no one knows for sure what day Jesus was born.

Western Christians usually mark Christmas Day with church services. The holiday is considered a joyful occasion and a number of traditions, some religious, some secular, have grown around it.

One of the traditions with both religious and secular roots associated with Christmas is that of gift-giving. This custom is believed to have come from the Bible, with the story of the Magi, or Three Wise Men, who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. From this tradition came the modern custom of exchanging gifts as well as the legend of Santa Claus, who is said to deliver toys and other gifts to well-behaved children as they sleep on Christmas Eve.

An ornament hanging from Christmas tree

Another well-known Christmas tradition is decorating homes, streets, stores and public places with lights, nativity scenes, holly, mistletoe and other ornaments-usually with a Christmas tree as the centerpiece. Christmas decorations are typically the first sign that the Christmas season is approaching, as many public places begin decorating in late November and early December.

A traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, goose or ham is often served on Christmas Day. Families come together to share and may exchange gifts after their meal.