Christmas and holiday season
|Christmas and holiday season|
|Significance||Christian and secular festive season|
|Observances||Gift giving, family meetings, religious services, parties, other holiday-specific traditions|
|Ends||Early January (usually after either New Year's Day or Epiphany)|
|Related to||Advent, Christmas Day (Eve), Boxing Day, New Year's Day (Eve), Twelfth Night, Thanksgiving (US), Hanukkah, Yule, Epiphany, Kwanzaa (US), Winter solstice, others|
The Christmas season, also called the holiday season (often simply called the holidays), or the festive season, is an annually recurring period recognized in many Western and other countries that is generally considered to run from November to early January. It is defined as incorporating at least Christmas, New Year, and sometimes various other holidays and festivals. It also is associated with a period of shopping which comprises a peak season for the retail sector (the "Christmas (or holiday) shopping season") and a period of sales at the end of the season (the "January sales"). Christmas window displays and Christmas tree lighting ceremonies when trees decorated with ornaments and light bulbs are illuminated are traditions in many areas.
In the denominations of Western Christianity, the term "Christmas season" is considered synonymous with Christmastide, which runs from December 25 (Christmas Day) to January 5 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve), popularly known as the 12 Days of Christmas. However, as the economic impact involving the anticipatory lead-up to Christmas Day grew in America and Europe into the 19th and 20th centuries, the term "Christmas season" began to become synonymous instead with the traditional Christian Advent season, the period observed in Western Christianity from the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day until Christmas Day itself. The term "Advent calendar" continues to be widely known in Western parlance as a term referring to a countdown to Christmas Day from the beginning of December, although in retail the countdown to Christmas usually begins at the end of the summer season, and beginning of September.
Beginning in the mid-20th century, as the Christian-associated Christmas holiday and liturgical season, in some circles, became increasingly commercialized and central to American economics and culture while religio-multicultural sensitivity rose, generic references to the season that omitted the word "Christmas" became more common in the corporate and public sphere of the United States, which has caused a semantics controversy that continues to the present. By the late 20th century, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the new African American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa began to be considered in the U.S. as being part of the "holiday season", a term that as of 2013 has become equally or more prevalent than "Christmas season" in U.S. sources to refer to the end-of-the-year festive period. "Holiday season" has also spread in varying degrees to Canada; however, in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the phrase "holiday season" is not widely synonymous with the Christmas–New Year period, and is often instead associated with summer holidays.
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn, held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days."
Feast of the Nativity: Christmas
The earliest source stating December 25 as the date of birth of Jesus was Hippolytus of Rome (170–236), written very early in the 3rd century, based on the assumption that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox which he placed on March 25, to which he then added nine months. There is historical evidence that by the middle of the 4th century, the Christian churches of the East celebrated the birth and Baptism of Jesus on the same day, on January 6, while those in the West celebrated a Nativity feast on December 25 (perhaps influenced by the Winter solstice); and that by the last quarter of the 4th century, the calendars of both churches included both feasts. The earliest suggestions of a feast of the Baptism of Jesus on January 6 during the 2nd century comes from Clement of Alexandria, but there is no further mention of such a feast until 361, when Emperor Julian attended a feast on January 6 that year.
In the Christian tradition, the Christmas season is a period beginning on Christmas Day (December 25). In some churches (e.g., the Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Communion), the season continues through Twelfth Night, the day before the Epiphany, which is celebrated either on January 6 or on the Sunday between January 2 and 8. In other churches (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church), it continues until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls on the Sunday following the Epiphany, or on the Monday following the Epiphany if the Epiphany is moved to January 7 or 8. If the Epiphany is kept on January 6, the Church of England's use of the term Christmas season corresponds to the Twelve Days of Christmas, and ends on Twelfth Night.
This short Christmas season is preceded by Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, coinciding with the majority of the commercialized Christmas and holiday season. The Anglican Communion follows the Christmas season with an Epiphany season lasting until Candlemas (February 2), which is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas–Epiphany season; meanwhile, in the Lutheran Churches and the Methodist Churches, Epiphanytide lasts until the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.
Commercialisation and broadened scope
The Pew Research Center found that as of 2014, 72% of Americans support the presence of Christian Christmas decorations, such as the nativity scene, on government property; of that 72%, "survey data finds that a plurality (44%) of Americans say Christian symbols, such as nativity scenes, should be allowed on government property even if they are not accompanied by symbols from other faiths." Six in ten Americans attend church services during Christmastime, and "among those who don't attend church at Christmastime, a majority (57%) say they would likely attend if someone they knew invited them."
According to Yanovski et al., in the United States, the holiday season "is generally considered to begin with the day after Thanksgiving and end after New Year's Day". According to Axelrad, the season in the United States encompasses at least Christmas and New Year's Day, and also includes Saint Nicholas Day. The U.S. Fire Administration defines the "winter holiday season" as the period from December 1 to January 7. According to Chen et al., in China, the Christmas and holiday season "is generally considered to begin with the winter solstice and end after the Lantern Festival". In some stores and shopping malls, Christmas merchandise is advertised beginning after Halloween or even earlier in late October, alongside Halloween items. In the UK and Ireland, Christmas food generally appears on supermarket shelves as early as September or even August, while the Christmas shopping season itself starts from mid-November, when the high street Christmas lights are switched on.
Secular icons and symbols, such as Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, are on display in addition to overtly Christian displays of the nativity. Public holiday celebrations similarly range from midnight mass to Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and participation in the Little Drummer Boy Challenge.
The precise definition of feasts and festival days that are encompassed by the Christmas and holiday season has become controversial in the United States over recent decades. While in other countries the only holidays included in the "season" are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St. Stephen's Day/Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Epiphany, in recent times, this term in the U.S. began to expand to include Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The expansion of the holiday season in the U.S. to encompass Thanksgiving is believed to have begun in the 1920s, when in major department stores Macy's and Gimbels were launched dueling Thanksgiving Day parades to promote Christmas sales. Due to the phenomenon of Christmas creep and the informal inclusion of Thanksgiving, the Christmas and holiday season has begun to extend earlier into the year, overlapping Veterans/Remembrance/Armistice Day, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the Northern Hemisphere and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (August 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The exchange of gifts is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and the season thus also incorporates a "holiday shopping season". This comprises a peak time for the retail sector at the start of the holiday season (the "Christmas shopping season") and a period of sales at the end of the season, the "January sales".
Although once dedicated mostly to white sales and clearance sales, the January sales now comprise both winter close-out sales and sales comprising the redemption of gift cards given as presents. Young-Bean Song, director of analytics at the Atlas Institute in Seattle, states that it is a "myth that the holiday shopping season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas. January is a key part of the holiday season." stating that for the U.S. e-commerce sector January sales volumes matched December sales volumes in the 2004/2005 Christmas and holiday season.
In the United States, the holiday season is a particularly important time for retail shopping, with shoppers spending more than $600 billion during the 2013 holiday season, averaging about $767 per person. During the 2014 holiday shopping season, retail sales in the United States increased to a total of over $616 billion, and in 2015, retail sales in the United States increased to a total of over $630 billion, up from 2014's $616 billion. The average US holiday shopper spent on average $805. More than half of it was spent on family shopping.
It is traditionally considered to commence on the day after American Thanksgiving, a Friday colloquially known as either Black Friday or Green Friday. This is widely reputed to be the busiest shopping day of the entire calendar year. However, in 2004 the VISA credit card organization reported that over the previous several years VISA credit card spending had in fact been 8 to 19 percent higher on the last Saturday before Christmas Day (i.e., Super Saturday) than on Black Friday. A survey conducted in 2005 by GfK NOP discovered that "Americans aren't as drawn to Black Friday as many retailers may think", with only 17 percent of those polled saying that they will begin holiday shopping immediately after Thanksgiving, 13 percent saying that they plan to finish their shopping before November 24 and 10 percent waiting until the last day before performing their holiday gift shopping.
According to a survey by the Canadian Toy Association, peak sales in the toy industry occur in the Christmas and holiday season, but this peak has been occurring later and later in the season every year.
In 2005, the kick-off to the Christmas and holiday season for online shopping, the first Monday after US Thanksgiving, was named Cyber Monday. Although it was a peak, that was not the busiest online shopping day of that year. The busiest online shopping days were December 12 and 13, almost two weeks later; the second Monday in December has since become known as Green Monday. Another notable day is Free Shipping Day, a promotional day that serves as the last day in which a person can order a good online and have it arrive via standard shipping (the price of which the sender pays) prior to Christmas Eve; this day is usually on or near December 16. Four of the largest 11 online shopping days in 2005 were December 11 to 16, with an increase of 12 percent over 2004 figures. In 2011, Cyber Monday was slightly busier than Green Monday and Free Shipping Day, although all three days registered sales of over US$1 billion, and all three days registered gains ranging from 14 to 22 percent over the previous year. Analysts had predicted the peak on December 12, noting that Mondays are the most popular days for online shopping during the holiday shopping season, in contrast to the middle of the week during the rest of the year. They attribute this to people "shopping in stores and malls on the weekends, and ... extending that shopping experience when they get into work on Monday" by "looking for deals ... comparison shopping and ... finding items that were out of stock in the stores".
In 2006, the average US household was expected to spend about $1,700 on Christmas and holiday spendings. Retail strategists such as ICSC Research observed in 2005 that 15 percent of holiday expenditures were in the form of gift certificates, a percentage that was rising. So they recommended that retailers manage their inventories for the entire holiday shopping season, with a leaner inventory at the start and new winter merchandise for the January sales.
Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for the Shopping Center Council, states that he expects gift certificate usage to be between US$30billion and US$40billion in the 2006/2007 holiday shopping season. On the basis of the growing popularity of gift certificates, he states that "To get a true picture of holiday sales, one may consider measuring October, November, December and January sales combined as opposed to just November and December sales.", because with "a hefty amount of that spending not hitting the books until January, extending the length of the season makes sense".
According to the Deloitte 2007 Holiday Survey, for the fourth straight year, gift cards are expected to be the top gift purchase in 2007, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers surveyed planning to buy them, compared with 66 percent in 2006. In addition, holiday shoppers are planning to buy even more cards this year: an average of 5.5 cards, compared with the 4.6 cards they planned to buy last year. One in six consumers (16 percent) plan to buy 10 or more cards, compared with 11 percent last year. Consumers are also spending more in total on gift cards and more per card: $36.25 per card on average compared with $30.22 last year. Gift cards continue to grow in acceptance: Almost four in 10 consumers surveyed (39 percent) would rather get a gift card than merchandise, an increase from last year’s 35 percent. Also, resistance to giving gift cards continues to decline: 19 percent say they don’t like to give gift cards because they’re too impersonal (down from 22 percent last year). Consumers said that the cards are popular gifts for adults, teens and children alike, and almost half (46 percent) intend to buy them for immediate family; however, they are hesitant to buy them for spouses or significant others, with only 14 percent saying they plan to buy them for those recipients.
What has become known as "Christmas creep" refers to a merchandising phenomenon in which merchants and retailers exploit the commercialized status of Christmas by moving up the start of the holiday shopping season. The term was first used in the mid-1980s, and is associated with a desire of merchants to take advantage of particularly heavy Christmas-related shopping well before Black Friday in the United States and before Halloween in Canada.
The term is not used in the UK and Ireland, where retailers call Christmas the "golden quarter", that is, the three months of October through December is the quarter of the year in which the retail industry hopes to make the most profit. It can apply for other holidays as well, notably Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day.
In the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid-November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales. Retailers in the UK call Christmas the "golden quarter", that is, the three months of October to December is the quarter of the year in which the retail industry hopes to make the most money. In Ireland, around early December or late November each year, The Late Late Toy Show is broadcast on Irish television, which features all the popular toys throughout the year being demonstrated and showcased before the holiday season and shopping sprees commence.
The Netherlands and Belgium have a double holiday. The first one, the arrival of the Bishop Saint Nicholas and Black Peter, starts about mid November, with presents being given on December 5 or 6. This is a separate holiday from Christmas, Bishop Saint Nick (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus (Kerstman) being different people. The Netherlands and Belgium often do not start the Christmas season until December 6 or 7, i.e. after Sinterklaas has finished.
In France, the January sales are restricted by legislation to no more than four weeks in Paris, and no more than six weeks for the rest of the country, usually beginning on the first Wednesday in January, and are one of only two periods of the year when retailers are permitted to hold sales.
In Italy, the January sales begin on the first weekend in January, and last for at least six weeks.
In Croatia and Bosnia (predominantly Sarajevo) the sales periods are regulated by the Consumer Protection Act. The January sales period starts on December 27 and can last up to 60 days.
In Germany, the Winterschlussverkauf (winter sale before the season ends) was one of two official sales periods (the other being the Sommerschlussverkauf, the summer sales). It begins on the last Monday in January and lasts for 12 days, selling left-over goods from the holiday shopping season, as well as the winter collections. However, unofficially, goods are sold at reduced prices by many stores throughout the whole of January. By the time the sales officially begin the only goods left on sale are low-quality ones, often specially manufactured for the sales. Since a legislative reform to the corresponding law in 2004, season sales are now allowed over the whole year and are no longer restricted to season-related goods. However, voluntary sales still called "Winterschlussverkauf" take place further on in most stores at the same time every year.
In Sweden, where the week of the first Advent Sunday marks the official start of the Christmas and holiday season, continuing with Saint Lucy's Day on December 13, followed up by Christmas before the Mellandagsrea (between days sell off) traditionally begins on December 27 (nowadays often December 26 or even December 25) and lasts during the rest of the Christmas holiday. It is similar to Black Friday, but lasts longer. They last 34–35 days. Black Friday itself has also gained publicity in Sweden since the early-2010s. The Swedish Christmas and holiday season continues over Epiphany, and finally ends on St. Knut's Day when the children have a Knut's party.
In Bosnia (Republika Srpska), Montenegro and Serbia, holiday sales starts in the middle of December and last for at least one month.
Hong Kong has a lot of seasonal activities and traditions to offer around Christmas time. December 25 and 26 are Public Holidays that makes most shops open for shopping. Locals and tourists love to watch the 30-meter Swarovski Christmas tree in the Central as well as the Christmas light displays on buildings on Victoria Harbour. A huge party in Hong Kong called Winterfest is celebrated every year which involves malls, shops, theme parks and other attractions.
The Philippines has the longest Christmas season, reportedly. As early as September up until January 9, which is the feast of the Black Nazarene (the season ends on the Feast of the Lord's Baptism on the 2nd Sunday of January or the Monday after Epiphany if the 2nd Sunday is marked as such), Carolers can be typically heard going door to door serenading fellow Filipinos in exchange of money. All over the entire country, parols (star shaped lanterns) are hung everywhere and lights are lit. Simbang Gabi or dawn masses start December 16 and run for nine days up until Christmas Eve.
Singapore widely celebrates Christmas which is a Public Holiday in this country. For six weeks, mid-November to early January, the 2.2-kilometre (1.4 mi) stretch of Orchard Road glitters with lights from decorated trees and building facades of malls and hotels.
A selection of goodwill greetings are often used around the world to address strangers, family, colleagues or friends during the season. Some greetings are more prevalent than others, depending on culture and location. Traditionally, the predominant greetings of the season have been "Merry Christmas", "Happy Christmas", and "Happy New Year". In the mid-to-late 20th century in the United States, more generic greetings such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" began to rise in cultural prominence, and this would later spread to other Western countries including Canada, Australia and to a lesser extent some European countries. A 2012 poll by Rasmussen Reports indicated that 68 percent of Americans prefer the use of "Merry Christmas", while 23 percent preferred "Happy Holidays". A similarly-timed Canadian poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid indicated that 72 percent of Canadians preferred "Merry Christmas".
Merry Christmas and Happy Christmas
The greetings and farewells "merry Christmas" and "happy Christmas" are traditionally used in English-speaking countries, starting a few weeks before December 25 each year.
- "Merry Christmas", the traditional English greeting, composed of merry (jolly, happy) and Christmas (Old English: Cristes mæsse, for Christ's Mass).
- "Happy Christmas", an equivalent greeting often used in Great Britain and Ireland.
- "Merry Xmas", with the "X" replacing "Christ" (see Xmas) is sometimes used in writing, but very rarely in speech. This is in line with the traditional use of the Greek letter chi (uppercase Χ, lowercase χ), the initial letter of the word Χριστός (Christ), to refer to Christ.
These greetings and their equivalents in other languages are popular not only in countries with large Christian populations, but also in the largely non-Christian nations of China and Japan, where Christmas is celebrated primarily due to cultural influences of predominantly Christian countries. They have somewhat decreased in popularity in the United States and Canada in recent decades, but polls in 2005 indicated that they remained more popular than "happy holidays" or other alternatives.
History of the phrase
"Merry," derived from the Old English myrige, originally meant merely "pleasant, agreeable" rather than joyous or jolly (as in the phrase "merry month of May"). Christmas has been celebrated since the 4th century AD, the first known usage of any Christmas greeting dates was in 1534. "Merry Christmas and a happy new year" (thus incorporating two greetings) was in an informal letter written by an English admiral in 1699. The same phrase is contained in the title of the English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and also appears in the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Henry Cole in England in 1843.
Also in 1843, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was published, during the mid Victorian revival of the holiday. The word "merry" was then beginning to take on its current meaning of "jovial, cheerful, jolly and outgoing." "Merry Christmas" in this new context figured prominently in A Christmas Carol. The cynical Ebenezer Scrooge rudely deflects the friendly greeting: "If I could work my will … every idiot who goes about with 'merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding." After the visit from the ghosts of Christmas effects his transformation, Scrooge exclaims; "I am as merry as a school-boy. A merry Christmas to everybody!" and heartily exchanges the wish to all he meets. The instant popularity of A Christmas Carol, the Victorian era Christmas traditions it typifies, and the term's new meaning appearing in the book popularized the phrase "merry Christmas".
The alternative "happy Christmas" gained usage in the late 19th century, and in the UK and Ireland is a common spoken greeting, along with "merry Christmas." One reason may be the Victorian middle-class influence in attempting to separate wholesome celebration of the Christmas season from public insobriety and associated asocial behaviour, at a time when merry also meant "intoxicated" – Queen Elizabeth II is said to prefer "happy Christmas" for this reason. In her annual Christmas messages to the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth has used "happy Christmas" far more often than "merry Christmas." Note: "merry Christmas" has been used only four times: in 1962, 1967, 1970 and 1999. "Happy Christmas" has been used on almost every broadcast since 1956. One year included both greetings, and "blessed Christmas" was used in 1954 and 2007.
In the American poet Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (1823), the final line, originally written as "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night", has been changed in many later editions to "Merry Christmas to all," perhaps indicating the relative popularity of the phrases in the US.
In the United States, "happy holidays" (along with the similarly generalized "season's greetings") has become a common holiday greeting in the public sphere of department stores, public schools and greeting cards. Its use is generally confined to the period between United States Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The phrase "happy holidays" has been used as a Christmas greeting in the United States for more than 100 years.
The increasing usage of "happy holidays" has been the subject of some controversy in the United States. Advocates claim that "happy holidays" is an inclusive greeting that is not intended as an attack on Christianity or other religions, but is rather a response to what they say is the reality of a growing non-Christian population.
Opponents of "happy holidays" generally claim it is a secular neologism. The greeting has been variously characterized as materialistic, consumerist, atheistic, indifferentist, agnostic, politically correct, anti-Christian, or even as a covert form of Christian cultural imperialism. Critics of the phrase have associated it with a larger cultural clash termed the "War on Christmas". The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has stated the uproar is based on "stories that only sometimes even contain a grain of truth and often are completely false."
"Season's greetings" is a greeting more commonly used as a motto on winter season greeting cards, and in commercial advertisements, than as a spoken phrase. In addition to "Merry Christmas", Victorian Christmas cards bore a variety of salutations, including "compliments of the season" and "Christmas greetings." By the late 19th century, "with the season's greetings" or simply "the season's greetings" began appearing. By the 1920s it had been shortened to "season's greetings," and has been a greeting card fixture ever since. Several White House Christmas cards, including U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1955 card, have featured the phrase.
Various studies have been performed on the effects of the Christmas and holiday season, which encompasses several feast days, on health. They have concluded that the health changes that occur during the Christmas and holiday season are not reversed during the rest of the year and have a long-term cumulative effect over a person's life, and that the risks of several medical problems increase during the Christmas and holiday season.
Yanovski et al. investigated the assertion that the average American gains weight over the season. They found that average weight gain over the Christmas and holiday season is around 0.48 kilograms (1.1 lb). They also found that this weight gain is not reversed over the rest of the year, and concluded that this "probably contributes to the increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood" (cf Lent). Research indicates that adults who weigh themselves daily with access to their weight graph tended to avoid holiday weight gain; however, self-weighing tends to decrease during the holiday season. Self-monitoring diet (e.g., food, calories, and fat) and physical activity each day helps adults avoid weight gain during the holidays.
Chan et al. investigated the increases in A1C and fasting plasma glucose in type 2 diabetic patients, to see whether these increases were steady throughout the year or varied seasonally. They concluded that the winter holidays did influence the glycemic control of the patients, with the largest increases being during that period, increases that "might not be reversed during the summer and autumn months".
The Christmas and holiday season, according to a survey by the ADA, is the second most popular reason, after birthdays, for sharing food in the workplace. The British Columbia Safety Council states that if proper food safety procedures are not followed, food set out for sharing in the workplace can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, and recommends that perishable foods (for which it gives pizza, cold cuts, dips, salads, and sandwiches as examples) should not sit out for more than 2 hours.
A survey conducted in 2005 found shopping caused headaches in nearly a quarter of people and sleeplessness in 11 percent.
Phillips et al. investigated whether some or all of the spike in cardiac mortality that occurs during December and January could be ascribed to the Christmas/New Year's holidays rather than to climatic factors. They concluded that the Christmas and holiday season is "a risk factor for cardiac and noncardiac mortality", stating that there are "multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes".
The Asthma Society of Canada states that the Christmas and holiday season increases exposure to irritants because people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and that seasonal decorations in the home introduce additional, further, irritants beyond the ones that exist all year around. It recommends that asthmatics avoid scented candles, for example, recommending either that candles not be lit or that soy or beeswax candles be employed.
According to the Stanford Recycling Center Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Christmas and holiday season than at other times of the year.
Because of the cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere, the Christmas and holiday season (as well as the second half of winter) is a time of increased use of fuel for domestic heating. This has prompted concerns in the United Kingdom about the possibility of a shortage in the domestic gas supply. However, in the event of an exceptionally long cold season, it is industrial users, signed on to interruptible supply contracts, who would find themselves without gas supply.
The U.S. Fire Administration states that the Christmas and holiday season is "a time of elevated risk for winter heating fires" and that the fact that many people celebrate the different holidays during the Christmas and holiday season by decorating their homes with seasonal garlands, electric lights, candles, and banners, has the potential to change the profile of fire incidence and cause. The Government of Alberta Ministry of Municipal Affairs states that candle-related fires rise by 140 percent during the Christmas and holiday season, with most fires involving human error and most deaths and injuries resulting from the failure to extinguish candles before going to bed. It states that consumers don't expect candle holders to tip over or to catch fire, assuming that they are safe, but that in fact candle holders can do this.
Because of increased alcohol consumption at festivities and poorer road conditions during the winter months, alcohol-related road traffic accidents increase over the Christmas and holiday season.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2008)
In the United States, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has had significant legal impact upon the activities of governments and of state-funded public schools during and relating to the Christmas and holiday season, and has been the source of controversy.
Public schools are subject to what the Anti-Defamation League terms the "December dilemma", namely the task of "acknowledging the various religious and secular holiday traditions celebrated during that time of year" whilst restricting observances of the various religious festivals to what is constitutionally permissible. The ADL and many school district authorities have published guidelines for schools and for teachers. For example, the directive on maintaining religious neutrality in public schools over the Christmas and holiday season, given to public school administrators in the District of Columbia by the superintendent, contains several points on what may and may not be taught in the District of Columbia Public Schools, the themes of parties and concerts, the uses of religious symbols, the locations of school events and classes and prayer.
In 2002, Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov ordered all stores, restaurants, cafés and markets to display seasonal decorations and lights in their windows and interiors from December 1 onwards. Banks, post offices and public institutions were to do the same from December 15, with violators liable for fines of up to 200 rubles. Every business was ordered to have illuminated windows during the hours of 16:30 until 01:00. This caused a mixed reaction, with people objecting to being forced to put up decorations.
- Goff, Kristin. "Ottawa shoppers to drop $3.2 B this Christmas season". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on November 26, 2007.
Ottawa shoppers are in the mood to spend this holiday season and could drop as much as $3.2 billion in retailers' tills, a new survey has found.
- Harding, James (December 6, 2006). "Real wonder of Woolies is that it still has a place on the high street". The Times. London. Archived from the original on December 28, 2017.
John Lewis, too, has reported a fantastic start to the Christmas season, with sales up nearly 6 per cent on a year ago.
- Wal-Mart sounds ominous note for holiday season – USA Today. November 25, 2006. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- Web retail a bright spot in tepid U.S. holiday season – Reuters India. December 2, 2009. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- Definition of festive season – Collins Dictionary. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Johnson, David. "Origins of the Christmas Holiday". infoplease. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
- Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O'Neil PM, Sebring NG (March 23, 2000). "A prospective study of holiday weight gain". New England Journal of Medicine. 342 (12): 861–867. doi:10.1056/NEJM200003233421206. PMC 4336296. PMID 10727591.
- Allan M. Axelrad (July 2005). "Christmas in Cooperstown and Templeton: The Coopers and the Invention of an American Holiday Tradition". In Hugh C. MacDougall (ed.). 14th Cooper Seminar, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, July 2003. pp. 7–18.
- Truscott, Jeffrey A. (2011). Worship. Armour Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 9789814305419.
As with the Easter cycle, churches today celebrate the Christmas cycle in different ways. Practically all Protestants observe Christmas itself, with services on 25 December or the evening before. Anglicans, Lutherans and other churches that use the ecumenical Revised Common Lectionary will likely observe the four Sundays of Advent, maintaining the ancient emphasis on the eschatological (First Sunday), ascetic (Second and Third Sundays), and scriptural/historical (Fourth Sunday). Besides Christmas Eve/Day, they will observe a 12-day season of Christmas from 25 December to 5 January.
- Christmastide – Holytrinitygerman.org. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Christianson, Stephen G. (January 1, 2000). The American Book of Days. H.W. Wilson. ISBN 9780824209544.
The last evening of the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas is known as the Twelfth Night, or Epiphany Eve.
- Dan Andriacco (2001). "Holy Day Vs. Holiday". Archived from the original on April 4, 2014.
- Don Tennant (November 23, 2011). "Dealing with the 'Christmas' vs. 'Holiday Season' Issue". Archived from the original on June 12, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- 68% Prefer 'Merry Christmas' Over 'Happy Holidays' – Rasmussem Reports. November 27, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- "Christmas season" vs. "Holiday season" – Google Ngram Viewer. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Poll: U.S. Split On 'Happy Holidays' Vs. 'Merry Christmas' – HuffPost. December 16, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Humbug to Holiday: 7 in 10 Canadians Prefer '[ Merry Christmas]' – Canada.com. December 20, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2013.– Canadian Olympic Team Official Website. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- "The origins of 'Happy Holidays' – and why it makes people so angry". The Independent. December 23, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
- John F. Miller, "Roman Festivals," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 172.
- Catullus 14.15 (optimo dierum), as cited by Hans-Friedrich Mueller, "Saturn," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, p. 221.
- Mills, Watson E.; Edgar V. McKnight; Roger Aubrey Bullard (1990). Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press. p. 142. ISBN 0-86554-373-9. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- Aspects of the liturgical year in Cappadocia (325–430) by Jill Burnett Comings 2005 ISBN 0-8204-7464-9 pp. 61–71
- Knecht, Friedrich Justus (1910). A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture. B. Herder. p. 410. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
We keep a feast on the 2nd of February, forty days after Christmas, in memory of our Lord's Presentation in the Temple. This feast has several names. First, it is known as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus. Secondly, it is called the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the usual and popular name for this Feast is Candlemas-day, because on this day candles are blessed before Mass, and there takes place a procession with lighted candles. Candles are blessed and lighted on this particular feast.
- "Epiphany". Christian Advocate. United Methodist Publishing House. 7: 15. 1963.
Epiphany Day is always Twelfth Night or January 6, and in Methodist usage the Epiphany Season includes all the Sundays between that date and Ash Wednesday, which for 1964 will be February 12, the beginning of Lent.
- "Poll: 72 Percent Of US Support Christian Symbols On Government Property". CBS. December 15, 2014.
- Stetzer, Ed (December 14, 2015). "What Is Church Attendance Like During Christmastime? New Data From LifeWay Research". Christianity Today.
- "The Seasonal Nature of Fires" (PDF). U.S. Fire Administration. January 2005: 15. Cite journal requires
- Harn-Shen Chen; Tjin-Shing Jap; Ru-Lin Chen; Hong-Da Lin (February 2004). "A Prospective Study of Glycemic Control During Holiday Time in Type 2 Diabetic Patients". Diabetes Care. 27 (2): 326–330. doi:10.2337/diacare.27.2.326. PMID 14747208.
- South Molton and Brook Street Christmas Lights (Tuesday November 16, 2010) View London.co.uk
- Julia Kollewe Monday (November 29, 2010) West End spree worth £250m marks start of Christmas shopping season The Guardian
- Heather Conrad; Deforest Walker (October 1, 2001). Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations Around the World. Lightport Books. ISBN 0-9712425-1-8.
- "Pilgrims and parades: A brief history of Thanksgiving". Newsworks.org (WHYY). November 24, 2011. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- Mike Duff (October 27, 2003). "Consensus: momentum bodes well for 4Q — Retail sales growth, which began to stir in spring, continue gaining through the beginning of next year". DSN Retailing Today.
- Lorrie Grant (February 2, 2006). "Retailers celebrate "strong" January sales gain of 5.1%". USA Today.
- Mrickey Alam Khan (November 10, 2005). "Atlas: Online Retailers Will Like Mondays During Holidays". DM News. Courtenay Communications Corporation.[permanent dead link]
- Simon Crompton (December 10, 2005). "Ills in the aisles". The Times. London.
- "Retailers in for a Very Digital Holiday Season, According to NRF Survey". nrf.com.
- "Consumers Skip Thanksgiving Leftovers and Kick-Off Holiday Shopping with Strong Spending on Black Friday". Press releases. San Francisco: VISA U.S.A. November 27, 2004. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
- "Consumers Tighten Their Purse Strings This Holiday Season – Fuel Costs Putting a Damper on Shopping Plans". Mirror Geek.
- "report" (Microsoft Word). U.S. Commercial Service in Canada.[dead link]
- Green Monday And Free Shipping Day Help Boost Online Holiday Sales By 15 Percent To $31B. TechCrunch.com. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
- "Holiday Sales Tune-up: Simple, effective tactics to increase seasonal sales" (PDF). MarketLive, Inc. October 24, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 11, 2008. – This in turn cites the 2006 Holiday Best Practices Report by Shop.org.
- "Let the shopping begin". The Economist. November 24, 2006.
- "2005 U.S. Holiday Spending Outlook" (PDF). ICSC Research. Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. October 18, 2005. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2008.
- Dave Goll (November 17, 2006). "Extended holiday shopping season bodes well". East Bay Business Times.
- "Press Release:Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus; Gift Buying is Expected to Hold Steady, Although Consumers Will Spend Less Overall". Deloitte. November 1, 2007.[dead link]
- Siewers, Alf (November 25, 1987). "He's well-suited to enjoying life of Santa". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
And so does the culture, with a commercializing of himself that Santa deplores even as he has watched the holiday season creep back to Labor Day.
- Maxwell, Kerry (September 18, 2006). "Macmillan English Dictionary Word of the Week Archive – "Christmas creep"". New Words. Macmillan Publishers. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
The term Christmas creep was first used in the mid-eighties, though gained wider recognition more recently, possibly due to subsequent coinage of the expression mission creep.
- Zoe Wood (Tuesday December 21, 2010) Snow chaos raises fears for Christmas dinners minus the trimmings The Guardian
- Sugden, Joanna; Fresco, Adam (December 4, 2005). "An international guide to the January sales". The Sunday Times. London.
- "French store sales rise in January". Food and Drink Europe. Decision News Media SAS. February 7, 2003. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011.
- HINA. "Sezonska sniženja dva puta godišnje, zimsko počinje 27. prosinca". nacional.hr. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "Shopping" (PDF). Fulbright Primer. Fulbright Commission in Berlin. March 20, 2002. p. 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 31, 2006.
- Paul Joyce (2005). "Opening hours in German-speaking countries". Going Shopping. Exeter University Beginners' German. University of Exeter. Archived from the original on December 23, 2010.
- "UWG". nichtamtliches Inhaltsverzeichnis (in German). Retrieved December 10, 2017.
- "Julgransplundring: Rocking around the Christmas Tree". Your Living City. January 3, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
- "Top 10 places to spend your Christmas". CNN. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- "The Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas". CNN. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- "Five Christmas holiday locations in Asia | Asian Correspondent". asiancorrespondent.com. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- "6 facts about South Korea's growing Christian population". Pew Research Center. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
- Noack, Rick (December 24, 2014). "10 foreign Christmas traditions that Americans might want to adopt". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- "Merry Christmas beats 'Happy Holidays' In 2005 Usage". BusinessKnowledgeSource.com. 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2006.
- Gary Martin (2004). "Holiday Greetings, Merry Christmas". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved June 11, 2006.
- "Merry". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved January 15, 2017. (subscription required)
- "Christmas card sold for record price". BBC News. Retrieved December 25, 2017
- Minzesheimer, Bob (December 22, 2008). "Dickens' classic 'Christmas Carol' still sings to us". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- Dickens, Charles (1858). A Christmas carol: in prose : being a ghost story of Christmas. Bradbury and Evans. p. 58. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!.
- Joe L. Wheeler. Christmas in my heart, Volume 10. p.97. Review and Herald Pub Assoc, 2001. ISBN 0-8280-1622-4
- Robertson Cochrane. Wordplay: origins, meanings, and usage of the English language. p.126 University of Toronto Press, 1996 ISBN 0-8020-7752-8
- "The Queen's First Christmas Broadcast 1952". The Royal Household. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
- "site:www.royal.gov.uk/ImagesandBroadcasts/TheQueensChristmasBroadcasts/ChristmasBroadcasts/ "merry Christmas" – Google Search".
- "site:www.royal.gov.uk/ImagesandBroadcasts/TheQueensChristmasBroadcasts/ChristmasBroadcasts/ "merry Christmas" "happy Christmas" – Google Search".
- "site:www.royal.gov.uk/ImagesandBroadcasts/TheQueensChristmasBroadcasts/ChristmasBroadcasts/ "blessed Christmas" – Google Search".
- Stack, Liam (December 19, 2016). "How the 'War on Christmas' Controversy Was Created". The New York Times.
- Blumenfeld, Warren (December 17, 2014). "December and Christian Cultural Imperialism". The Good Men Project. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
- "Why 'Happy Holidays'?". Reason. 2004. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
- "Maryland Historical Society Library Devotes Exhibit To Holiday Cards". Antiques and the Arts Online. 2005. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
- "Season's Greetings from the White House". The White House. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
- Kaviani, Sepideh; vanDellen, Michelle; Cooper, Jamie A. (2019). "Daily Self‐Weighing to Prevent Holiday‐Associated Weight Gain in Adults". Obesity. 27 (6): 908–916. doi:10.1002/oby.22454. ISSN 1930-7381. PMID 31119881. S2CID 162181702.
- Fahey, Margaret C.; Klesges, Robert C.; Kocak, Mehmet; Wang, Jiajing; Talcott, Gerald W.; Krukowski, Rebecca A. (July 1, 2019). "Do the holidays impact weight and self-weighing behaviour among adults engaged in a behavioural weight loss intervention?". Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 13 (4): 395–397. doi:10.1016/j.orcp.2019.05.001. ISSN 1871-403X. PMC 6698213. PMID 31182293.
- Boutelle, Kerri N.; Kirschenbaum, Daniel S.; Baker, Raymond C.; Mitchell, M. Ellen (1999). "How can obese weight controllers minimize weight gain during the high risk holiday season? By self-monitoring very consistently". Health Psychology. 18 (4): 364–368. doi:10.1037/0278-622.214.171.1244. ISSN 1930-7810. PMID 10431937.
- Baker, Raymond C.; Kirschenbaum, Daniel S. (1998). "Weight control during the holidays: Highly consistent self-monitoring as a potentially useful coping mechanism". Health Psychology. 17 (4): 367–370. doi:10.1037/0278-6126.96.36.1997. ISSN 1930-7810. PMID 9697946.
- Wilson, Mark G; Padilla, Heather M; Meng, Lu; Daniel, Carmen N (2019). "Impact of a workplace holiday weight gain prevention program". Nutrition and Health. 25 (3): 173–177. doi:10.1177/0260106019854916. ISSN 0260-1060. PMID 31189434. S2CID 189813733.
- "Safety First" (PDF). British Columbia Safety Council. Spring 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2008.
- David P. Phillips; Jason R. Jarvinen; Ian S. Abramson; Rosalie R. Phillips (September 10, 2004). "Cardiac Mortality Is Higher Around Christmas and New Year's Than at Any Other Time" (PDF). Circulation. 110 (25): 3781–3788. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000151424.02045.F7. PMID 15596560. S2CID 37862942.
- Michael Gallinger (November 28, 2005). "Christmas and holiday season Tips" (PDF). Asthma Society of Canada.
- "Tips for a "Green" Holiday Season". Stanford Recycling Center. Archived from the original on July 7, 2010.
- Peter Klinger (December 29, 2005). "Thousands shiver as gas boiler failures double". The Times. London.
- "Candle Saafety Tips" (PDF). Government of Alberta Ministry of Municipal Affairs. April 8, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 8, 2007.
- Kelly Grinsteinner (November 28, 2005). "Controlled drinking experiment teaches valuable lesson". The Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on February 23, 2008.
- Abraham H. Foxman. "The 'December Dilemma': December Holiday Guidelines for Public Schools". Religion in America's Public Square: Crossing the Line?. Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on August 31, 2006.
- "Religion in the Public Schools: Teaching About Religious Holidays". Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on August 31, 2006.
- Paul L. Vance (December 14, 2001). "Religious Neutrality Requirements" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2008. Cite journal requires
- Oksana Yablokova; Kevin O'Flynn (November 29, 2002). "Moscow To Pay a Price for Not Celebrating". The St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Leigh Eric Schmidt (September 1, 1995). Consumer rites: the buying & selling of American holidays. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. pp. 106–191. ISBN 0-691-02980-6.
- "Holiday Shopping? How To Be on Guard When You're Online". Consumer Alerts. Federal Trade Commission. Archived from the original on March 29, 2007. – The FTC's advice to consumers who are shopping during the holiday season
- Tom I. Romero II (December 2002). "Bah Humbug! Colorado Law and the Christmas and holiday season". The Colorado Lawyer. 31 (12): 139. Archived from the original on September 6, 2005.
- Richard Heinberg (September 1993). Celebrate the Solstice. U.S.: Quest Books. ISBN 0-8356-0693-7.
- Liran Einav (August 12, 2002). "Seasonality and Competition in Time: An Empirical Analysis of Release Date Decisions in the U.S. Motion Picture Industry" (PDF). Cite journal requires
|journal=(help) – Einav describes the Christmas and holiday season as one of the two periods of the year (the other being the beginning of Summer, Memorial Day to Labor Day) where "movie makers [...] tend to release their biggest hits".
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Christmas and New Year travel.|
- Naughty & Nice: A History of the Holiday Season – An hour-long public radio program exploring the roots of American beliefs and rituals surrounding the winter holidays
- "Winter Holidays". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 28, 2002. – A series of lesson plans for teaching children about the winter holidays.