Christmas Day is a public holiday in many countries, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season organized around it.
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Celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins.
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English word "Christmas" is a shortened form of "Christ's Mass".
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Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi in Greek Khristos, although some style guides discourage its use.
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Christmas played a role in the Arian controversy of the fourth century.
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Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus' birth, with some claiming that certain elements have origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.
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The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has continually evolved since the holiday's inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century transformation.
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The forty days before Christmas became the "forty days of St Martin", now known as Advent.
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Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens.
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Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.
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Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans.
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Up to the 1950s in the UK, many Christmas customs were restricted to the upper classes and better-off families.
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Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian.
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Since the 16th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas carrying the Christian symbolism of the Star of Bethlehem; in that country it is known in Spanish as the Flower of the Holy Night.
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Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts.
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In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night.
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Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day.
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Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season.
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Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many nations around the world.
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One economist's analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, because of the effect of gift-giving.
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Christmas has at times been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources, both Christian and non-Christian.
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Today, some conservative Reformed denominations such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America likewise reject the celebration of Christmas based on the regulative principle and what they see as its non-Scriptural origin.
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In 1984, the U S Supreme Court ruled in Lynch v Donnelly that a Christmas display owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, did not violate the First Amendment.
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