It is largely characterized by exchanging gifts within families and by gifts brought by Santa Claus or other mythical figures.
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Christians. The exact date of the birth of Christ was unanimously fixed some two centuries after his death, as the Catholic Church began to establish its tradition. Now Christmas is celebrated on 25th December in Catholic, Protestant and most orthodox churches.
The period of celebration varies in different countries. In the United Kingdom, the Christmas season traditionally runs for twelve days following the Christmas Day. These twelve days of Christmas are a period of feasting and merrymaking which ends on Twelfth Night the feast of the Epiphany.
Christmas period has grown much longer in some countries including the United States. It begins many weeks before. During Christmas people enjoy shopping and meet one another. The celebration continues up to New Year's Day.
The numerous customs related to Christmas vary from country to country. Most of the familiar traditional practices and symbols of Christmas, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas ham.
The Yule Log holly, mistletoe and giving of presents, were adapted or appropriated by Christian missionaries from the earlier Asatru pagan midwinter holiday of Yule.