It’s almost here! Pull on a reindeer jumper, hang up your stocking and prepare to eat a mince pie or 20: the Yuletide season has arrived.

Christmas is a time full of traditions. These include religious services like midnight Mass, cultural customs such as decorating a fir tree, and personal family traditions — like a certain pudding recipe or handmade decorations. Find out more about some of the popular Christmas traditions from around the world in this briefing.

It is also, of course, a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago. Angels declared that the baby born in a manger in Bethlehem was Christ the saviour — the son of God who had been prophesied for hundreds of years.

Today, most Christians celebrate by giving presents to loved ones or money to charity. Others volunteer their time by creating “shoeboxes” full of gifts for the less fortunate, or helping out at a homeless shelter.

In the Western world, many non-Christians and atheists also celebrate Christmas. In a 2016 survey for YouGov, 76% of people said that “spending time with family” was the most important thing about the holiday.

What do you think is the “true meaning of Christmas”?

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Watch a short video on the history of Santa.


  1. Write a festive poem about what Christmas means to you.
  2. Choose a Christmas tradition and research its history — where it came from and what it symbolises. Create a short presentation for the rest of your class.
  3. As a class, organise a small charity event that you could do before the Christmas holidays — such as collecting donations for a food bank or fundraising for a charity.