Every year on 25 December, billions of people across the globe gather with loved ones to celebrate, worship, exchange gifts, and eat together.

Christians believe Jesus to be the son of God and Christmas celebrates his birth – even though he wasn’t actually born on that date. The nativity story tells how Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable for animals because there was no room at the inn for her stay. Our story explores the meaning of Christmas in more detail.

Although it is a Christian festival, nine out of 10 Americans celebrate the holiday even if they are not religious. In Thailand, where more than 90% of the population is Buddhist, people still decorate their homes and exchange gifts on 25 December.

Traditional celebrations include carol singing, a service at midnight, and giving gifts. Food is also an important part of festivities. In Britain, Germany, and the US, the Christmas meal often centres on a roast bird – usually turkey or goose. But traditions vary around the world.

In Latvia, a meal of nine dishes known as kūčios includes fish, bread, and vegetables. Costa Rican families make tamales (stuffed dough wrapped in banana leaves). In Japan, fried chicken is the favourite Christmas dish. Over three million Japanese families visit KFC on 24 December, often booking months in advance!

How is Christmas celebrated in your country?

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Christmas is a time to spend time with loved ones, to eat together, and give and receive presents. But have you ever thought about how much waste is produced from wrapping paper, crackers, and food packaging? Find out how to have a plastic-free Christmas here.


  1. Christingles are a popular tradition with children around the world. They were first made in Germany in 1747. Follow these instructions to make your own.
  2. Read our story on Christmas adverts. Then imagine you own a shop and write a script for an advertisement encouraging more customers during the festive season.
  3. Research how Christmas is celebrated in a different country to your own. Make a presentation about Christmas traditions there.