The Christmas season begins with Advent Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This marks the beginning of the Western Christian year, and also of Advent, the holy season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus.
The day before Christmas is celebrated as Christmas Eve. December 26, the day after Christmas, is celebrated as Boxing Day, or St. Stephen's Day, in many parts of the world.
The celebration of Christmas is accompanied by the exchange of gifts between family and friends, of charity to those more needy, and expressions of goodwill, peace and harmony on earth. Traditions include decorating a Christmas tree, decorating homes with wreaths of holly and sprigs of mistletoe, sharing stories and poems, playing music specific to the season and, most importantly for children, the arrival of Father Christmas or Santa Claus, laden with presents, on Christmas Eve.
Christmas has become an important festival even for non-Christians, who take part in its secular observances, and wish each other 'Merry Christmas' enthusiastically.
The story of Jesus' life has been told in the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The four Gospels do not always agree on the details, and only Matthew and Luke give an account of Jesus' birth.
Now read The Christmas Story - the story of Jesus' birth, as adapted from the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, by