Christmas, a holiday that marks the birth of Jesus in the Christian faith, has been celebrated for millennia. There is no universal way to celebrate Christmas. Cultures around the world have developed their own Christmas rituals, which means the holiday looks different depending on where you are. Whether you uphold a time-honored tradition or start a new one, there are many ways to make the holiday season special.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
Decorations, gatherings and gift exchanges among family, friends and co-workers are common features of Christmas celebrations around the world, as is mailing holiday cards to loved ones. Technology has also made it possible to have virtual celebrations with people who are far away. Wrapping gifts in pretty paper and ribbons is part of the joy of Christmas for many.
Video of the Day
Once the calendar turns to December, many observants swap out their usual playlist for classic Christmas music. Some families make a point to watch Christmas movies, sing Christmas songs, do DIY Christmas crafts or write Christmas cards together, while others just enjoy spending time with friends.
For many, the Christmas family photo is a meaningful memento, perhaps sent to friends on Christmas cards or enshrined in the photo album for the future.
Decorating for Christmas
Traditionally, people who celebrate Christmas display a Christmas tree covered in lights and ornaments. Trees may be real or artificial. If you are wondering how to celebrate Christmas with family, consider going to a Christmas tree farm together to pick out the tree. If a full-size tree seems too much, opt for a tabletop version.
In the Christian faith, a traditional Christmas tradition is to place a nativity scene at the base of the tree. A nativity scene typically features figurines of Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and three wise men who, according to the religion's teachings, were present at the birth of Jesus. A figurine of the infant Jesus is added on Christmas Day.
Among other traditional Christmas decorations, displaying a Christmas wreath on your front door is an effortless way to let passersby know that you are celebrating the season.
Handmade decorations add a personal touch, so consider making Christmas tree ornaments from felt, papier-mache or other materials available at craft shops. You can also purchase poinsettias and Christmas cacti to bring in a touch of the natural world.
Baking and cooking
Many family members gather on Christmas for an elaborate home-cooked Christmas dinner centered around a meat course, such as a roasted chicken or ham, with mashed potatoes as a traditional side dish. However, the menu should be adapted based on dietary needs and preferences. For dessert, a traditional choice is a Yule log, also known as a Buche de Noel, which is a rolled cake covered in chocolate. Any kind of pie or cake will do, however. Don't forget to serve eggnog or hot cocoa to your guests.
A cookie exchange with neighbors is a great way to share the joy of Christmas with your community.
For many people, baking Christmas cookies is a cherished holiday tradition. If you want to get the kids involved, bake gingerbread men or plain sugar cookies in festive shapes, like Christmas trees and snowmen, and give the kids colorful frosting, sprinkles and other edible materials to decorate the cookies. Making a gingerbread house from scratch or from a kit is another great way to celebrate Christmas.
Community service and giving back
Not everyone can afford the cost of a holiday meal or has enough money to buy Christmas gifts for their children at Christmas, which is why December is a great time to give to charity. Look for local organizations running toy drives, or donate gifts or money to a national effort, like Toys for Tots. Volunteering at a food bank is another way to honor the Christmas tradition of giving.
Where do you celebrate Christmas?
Many families celebrate Christmas at home. Family movie nights or karaoke are easy ways to get into the spirit without leaving the couch. Members of the Christian faith may also attend services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas morning is often a time to open presents. Because many cities go all-out for Christmas, it's also a popular time to travel, whether to visit family and friends or to see famous light displays like those in New York City.
So get into the holiday spirit because it's that time of the year!