In the Matthew account, astronomers follow a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the king of the Jews.King Herod orders the massacre of all the boys less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and later settles in Nazareth.In the Gospel of Luke account, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger.Angels proclaim him a savior for all people, and shepherds come to adore him.In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.While the month and date of Jesus' birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, Today, most Christians celebrate Christmas on the date of December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which is also the calendar in near-universal use in the secular world.However, some Eastern churches celebrate Christmas on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany.
The canonical gospels of Luke and Matthew both describe Jesus as being born in Bethlehem in Judea, to a virgin mother.
This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a disagreement over which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25.
The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after the day on which early Christians believed that Jesus was conceived, Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration.
In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals.