Origin of Christmas
- the annual commemoration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec 25
- Also called: Christmas DayDec 25, observed as a day of secular celebrations when gifts and greetings are exchanged
- (as modifier)Christmas celebrations
- Also called: Christmas Day (in England, Wales and Ireland) Dec 25, one of the four quarter daysCompare Lady Day, Midsummer's Day, Michaelmas
- Also called: Christmastide the season of Christmas extending from Dec 24 (Christmas Eve) to Jan 6 (the festival of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night)
Word Origin for Christmas
Written as one word from mid-14c. As a verb from 1590s. Father Christmas first attested in a carol attributed to Richard Smart, Rector of Plymtree (Devon) from 1435-77. Christmas tree in modern sense first attested 1835 in American English, from German Weihnachtsbaum. Christmas cards first designed 1843, popular by 1860s. Christmas Eve is Middle English Cristenmesse Even (c.1300).
A festival commemorating the birth of Jesus, traditionally celebrated on December 25 by most Western Christian churches. Although dating to probably as early as a.d. 200, the feast of Christmas did not become widespread until the Middle Ages. Today, Christmas is largely secularized and dominated by gifts, decorated trees, and a jolly Santa Claus.