Why do we celebrate Christmas?
Many countries around the world celebrate Christmas each year... but do we really know what it's all about?
What is Christmas?
Christmas is widely regarded as a Christian celebration, marking the birth of Jesus. However, did you know that Christmas's origins actually come from pagan festivals. Around the same time as Christmas, the Winter Solstice occurs. The festival to mark this is called the Yule, a pagan festival, celebrating the shortest day and longest night of the year.
A long, long time ago (somewhere in the 4th century!) people of the Christian faith wanted to hold a celebration, at the same time as this, as they believed worshipping pagan Gods was incorrect. They thus, used this to mark the birth of Jesus (even though he is widely believed to be born sometime in April).
What goes on in the UK?
Starting in November, celebrations and decorations begin to pop up all over the country. You'll begin to see Christmas trees and fairy lights in shops, parks, schools - pretty much everywhere! You'll also notice a change in people's moods - everyone begins to get into the Christmas spirit, which means they're generally happier, friendlier and more generous (even though people in the UK are some of the friendliest you'll meet!)
Christmas Eve (December 24th) - Most shops remain open, but schools and some workplaces will be shut. Many families will have their own traditions on this day, but some of the most popular ones are to have an Xmas Eve dinner with family, and open one present each! Children also leave some milk and cookies out for Santa, in anticipation of his arrival in the night.
Christmas Day (December 25th) - Most shops, all schools and workplaces will be shut. For some the day begins by going to Church, after which the celebrations really begin. People will exchange gifts under the Christmas trees, open crackers (which are filled with small toys and really bad jokes!), and eat a traditional Christmas dinner. This includes roast turkey and vegetables, a fruity Christmas pudding, mince pies and eggnog! Presents are opened by the Christmas tree, and then afterwards, most people spend the evening watching traditional Christmas films or playing games with their family, or going to see Nativity plays. The Queen also makes a special speech on this day, which is televised on all major channels.
Boxing Day (December 26th) - The day after Christmas is spent resting after a busy Christmas day. All shops open, and most will have offers and sales on. This is one of the busiest times of the year in retail. In the UK, it is also tradition for football games to be held on this day. Most other European countries do not hold any sports events during these holidays, but in the UK it is a joyous and exciting period for sport.
How can you celebrate?
If you're already in the UK, find out what is going on at your college or university. Many students travel back home to be with their families during this period, so sometimes it can appear quiet on campus. For this reason, Universities and Colleges will organise special events and trips for their students to make sure they can celebrate too! Some events include special trips to Christmas markets, carol services, Christmas dinners and visits to see pantomimes and shows.
Don't Forget! All students with a UK mailing address (can be family/friends) can enter our Christmas Prize Draw here: http://ukec.com/Landing/christmas.php
Share with your friends and you could be in with a greater chance of winning an iPad!