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Christmas or Christmas Day or "x-mas day" is a holiday observed mostly on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. The date is not known to be the actual birthday of Jesus, and may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after some early Christians believed Jesus had been conceived, the date of the winter solstice on the ancient Roman calendar, or one of various ancient winter festivals. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days.

Although nominally a Christian holiday, Christmas is also widely celebrated by many non-Christians, and many of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) is a popular folklore figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children.

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Badnjaks on sale at Kalenić Market, Belgrade
The badnjak (Cyrillic: бадњак, Serbian pronunciation: [ˈbadɲaːk]) is a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve, a central tradition in Serbian Christmas celebrations. The tree from which the badnjak is cut, preferably a young and straight oak, is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve. The felling, preparation, bringing in, and laying on the fire, are surrounded by elaborate rituals, with many regional variations. The burning of the log is accompanied by prayers that the coming year brings food, happiness, love, luck, and riches. The badnjak is treated as a person, to whom salutations and sacrifices such as grain, wine, and honey are offered. The log burns on throughout Christmas Day, when the first visitor strikes it with a poker or a branch to make sparks fly, requesting that the family's happiness and prosperity be as abundant as the sparks. As most Serbs today live in towns and cities, the badnjak is often symbolically represented by a cluster of oak twigs with brown leaves attached, with which the home is decorated on Christmas Eve. The festive kindling of the log commemorates the fire that—according to Serbian folk tradition—the shepherds of Bethlehem built in the cave where Jesus Christ was born, to warm the Baby Jesus and his mother throughout the night.

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Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food and beer. ... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?


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"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", Length: 4 minutes 25 seconds
"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is a poem and Christmas carol written by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Weston, Massachusetts. It first appeared on December 29, 1849 in the Christian Register in Boston.

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Traveling by reindeer, Arkhangelsk, Russia. photomechanical print : photochrom, color.
Credit: Detroit Publishing Co.
Traveling by reindeer, Arkhangelsk, Russia. photomechanical print : photochrom, color.

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Christmas tree

MainChristmas Eve · Christmas Day · Boxing Day · History · The Nativity · Bringers of gifts · Decorations · Economics · Customs

ChristianityNativity of Jesus · Nativity of Jesus in art · Nativity scene · Nativity of Jesus in later culture · Jesus Christ · Mary · Joseph · Angel Gabriel · Adoration of the Shepherds · Three Wise Men · Star of Bethlehem · King Herod · Massacre of the Innocents · Saint Nicholas · Twelfth Night · Epiphany · Advent · Christmastide Father Christmas · Santa Claus · Mrs. Claus · Santa Claus's elfs · Santa Claus's reindeer · Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer · Sinterklaas · Père Noël · Joulupukki · Ded Moroz  · La Befana · Christkind · Black Peter · Krampus · Belsnickel · Le Père Fouettard · North Pole · Santa's workshop · Korvatunturi · Other characters

By countryAustralia and New Zealand · Germany · Hawaii · Hungary · Indonesia · Ireland · Mexico · Philippines · Poland · Romania · Russia · Scotland · Serbia · Sweden · Ukraine ·

FolkloreFather Christmas · Santa Claus · Mrs. Claus · Santa Claus's elfs · Santa Claus's reindeer · Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer · Sinterklaas · Père Noël · Joulupukki · Ded Moroz  · La Befana · Christkind · Black Peter · Krampus · Belsnickel · Le Père Fouettard · North Pole · Santa's workshop · Korvatunturi · Other characters · Legend of the Christmas Spider

TraditionsTwelve Days of Christmas · Christmas trees · Wassailing · Yule log · Stockings · Ornaments · Lights · Nutcrackers · Christmas cards · Christmas songs · Christmas films · Christmas stamps  · A Visit from St. Nicholas · A Christmas Carol · NORAD Tracks Santa · Secret Santa · Advent calendars · Yule Goats · Santa Claus parades · Flying Santa · Christmas markets · Plants · Food · Feasts · Events · Parades · Christmas pickle · Miners' parades · Miner's figures · Candle arches · Christmas pyramids · Smoking figures · Incense candles

MediaFiction · Films · Plays · Episodes · Specials · Albums · Best-selling albums · Hit singles and tracks · Best-selling singles · Carols · Other Christmas music and songs

SocietyChristmas club · Christmas controversy · Christmas creep · Christmas Mountains · Christmas truce · Christmas in various language · Black Friday · Cyber Monday · White Christmas · Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 · Christmas and holiday season · Related holidays · List of winter festivals · SantaCon · Running of the Santas · Christmas in July · Christmas in August · Christmas in the American Civil War · Christmas in Puritan New England · Christmas in the post-War United States · Christmas seal

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