How is Christmas celebrated in the West? History and Traditions

How is Christmas celebrated in the West? History and Traditions

Christmas, which is celebrated on December 25, is a cultural and economic phenomenon all over the globe as well as a religious festival for many people. It has been celebrated for almost 2,000 years with a wide variety of rituals and customs, both religious and secular, all throughout the globe. Christmas is a festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the religious figure whose teachings form the foundation of Christianity. Many people also look forward to Santa Claus’s arrival on Christmas Eve, as well as exchanging presents with loved ones, decorating Christmas trees, going to church, and celebrating Christmas dinner with loved ones.

How did people first start celebrating Christmas?

Holidays have always been observed all across the globe in the dead of winter. Light and birth were honored in the darkest days of winter by ancient Europeans, centuries before the advent of the man afterwards named Jesus. During the winter solstice, many cultures celebrated the end of the worst part of winter and the beginning of longer, sunnier days to come.

To early Christians, Easter was the most important festival; Christmas was not observed. Holiday celebrations around Jesus’ birth were first established by the church in the fourth century. The Bible, however, does not provide a birth date for him.  Pope Julius I set the date of his birth as December 25 despite evidence suggesting that it may have happened in the spring. It’s widely thought that the church settled on December 25 as a means of incorporating and appropriating the practices of the ancient Roman feast of Saturnalia. The celebration, first known as the Feast of the Nativity, quickly caught on and was observed as far afield as Egypt by 432 as well as England even before conclusion of the 6th century.

By coordinating Christmas with the pagan winter solstice celebrations, church authorities raised the likelihood that Christmas would be widely celebrated, but also handed up control over the holiday’s observance. By the time we reach the Middle Ages, Christianity had mostly superseded paganism. Believers went to church on Christmas, and then they partied like it was Mardi Gras by getting drunk and having a good time. A homeless person or student would be proclaimed “lord of misrule” every year, and the crowd would enthusiastically play the role of his subjects. The needy would visit the mansions of the wealthy and expect to be served only the finest food. Owners risk having their guests intimidate them into compliance if they don’t. The holiday season evolved into a time when the well-to-do might “pay back their debt” to society by hosting those less fortunate.

A decade later, this term began to be used by Philadelphia businesspeople. Naturally, with more people in the city, business would go up, but probably not by much. When did Black Friday first appear on the calendar? Merchants in the 1960s attempted to dispel the day’s bad associations by rebranding it as “Big Friday,” which included enhanced discounts and extended store hours. Despite today’s advertising activities in Philadelphia, the new name would not be well received by residents. Midway through the 1980s, this celebration began spreading to other cities, and by the 1990s, it had become a phenomenon throughout the country. For all serious consumers in the United States, this day has been a yearly tradition ever since.

Christmas Traditions

The Cornish Bush

The Cornish Bush, also known as the kissing bunch, is a West Country Christmas custom with pagan roots that symbolizes the renewal of life at the winter solstice. Traditionally, on December 20th, homeowners would hang a three-dimensional wreath from a central beam.

Christmas tree

Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, first introduced the Christmas tree to Britain from Bavaria. However, an 8th-century saint from Devon is credited in mythology as the creator of the practice. St. Boniface visited Germany and saw pagan celebrations of the winter solstice centered on an ancient oak tree. Shortly after he cut it down, a fir took its place. After converting to Christianity the next year, all the pagans decorated the tree for Christmas instead of the wintertime peak.


Cornwall and Exmoor, two rather isolated regions of the West Country, each evolved their own particular carol style, which eventually became a major social event. These early Cornish melodies served as the basis for many well-known contemporary carols, which spread over the globe thanks to the migration of Cornish miners to Australia. On the 19th century, it was common for groups of carolers to perform in the streets at night in exchange for food, drink, and even money. Caroling services provided by a caroler are still very popular across the country.

Twelfth Night Scrambles

Young Cornish people formerly used to read their fate by tapping their foreheads to the marble over the hearth on Twelfth Night. Then they went outside to silently collect ivy leaves and rushes. A happy marriage may happen if the rushes were burnt consistently. The match might be compatible if the rushes split or caught fire.

Don’t let the pudding get away from you

However, the strangeness of modern Christmas customs has not diminished. In this yearly event, hundreds of spectators line the 5-kilometer stretch of Weymouth coastline while one lone runner dressed as a Christmas pudding attempts to outrun them. In addition to helping a good cause, the winner of this year’s pudding competition will have the unenviable task of providing the dessert for the next year. The date of the celebration this year is December 19th.

Make some holiday treats

Indulge yourself; the holidays are here! In the United States, preparing and decorating Christmas cookies is a popular holiday custom. Sugar cookies are traditionally carved out in holiday-specific forms, such as trees, stars, and wreaths, using cookie cutters. After baking the cookies, go wild with holiday-themed red and green frosting and sprinkles.

Put on a cardigan

One of the finest things of the Christmas season is getting dressed up for all of the events. It’s a lot of fun to get all dressed up, preferably with sequins and glitter. Showing up in a classic “ugly” Christmas sweater with a cheesy slogan or dated needlework might be even more entertaining. Go to a secondhand shop, look online for one with a holiday saying, or design your own awful knit. Decorations like as lights and wreaths are highly appreciated.

See some holiday films

There’s nothing better to do when the temperature outside is depressing than to curl up inside with a warm blanket, a mug of cocoa, and a few of your favorite holiday films. There is a wide range of excellent Christmas films, from classics like It’s a Wonderful Life to more recent hits like Elf, which follows the funny adventures of Buddy the elf. Countdowns to Christmas on several networks feature a new film each night leading up to the holiday. Check out some of our favorite seasonal films that are also fantastic tools for improving your English language skills!

Have fun with the people that matter to you.

It’s always more enjoyable to celebrate the holidays with those you care about. Whether you’re making cookies, going caroling, putting up decorations, or watching a classic Christmas film on the sofa with your loved ones, the experience will be that much more enjoyable with them at your side. Even if you don’t observe any particular religious festivals this time of year, it’s still a good idea to take some time to appreciate the people in your life and the year that’s passed.

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