Christmas is the most highly anticipated and marketed religious holiday in the Western world. Meaning 'Christ's Mass', Christmas is an important Christian holiday celebrating birth of Jesus Christ.
The holiday of Christmas itself is celebrated in many different ways around the world.
While celebrated in masse by any country with a significant Christian population, Christmas is also celebrated by many countries as a secular holiday, observing the tradition of gift giving without the emphasis on the more religious aspects of the event.
Exact records of when the holiday became an important part of the Christian tradition are not available, but all indications of its roots point back to the Roman Empire of the 4th century AD.
Historians today generally agree that Christmas was chosen to be celebrated on the 25th of December as a way to help unite the preexisting Pagan religions of the time with the newly adopted religion of Christianity. For centuries prior, the Romans had worshiped the god Saturn, with a holiday they referred to as Saturnalia, a seven day event beginning on the 17th of December and ending with the winter solstice, which at the time was celebrated on the 25th of December. The event was characterized by the same kinds of gift giving traditions popular with Christmas today.