One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.
During Christmas Eve people may fast (not eat any meat or fish usually) and then the main Christmas meal is often eaten after the Midnight Mass Service in some countries. In some other countries, such as Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Denmark the meal is eaten in the evening and you might go to a Midnight Service afterwards!
Christmas Eve has many of its own customs and traditions. The most widely practised one that still exists today is going to a Midnight Mass Church Service. In many countries, especially Catholic ones such as Spain, Mexico, Poland and Italy, this is the most important Church service of the Christmas season.
You might think that Christmas ends when you take the Christmas Decorations down – but it doesn’t! After both Christmas and the season of Epiphany, the end of the Christmas celebrations come on February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas, with Candlemas. Candlemas, also known as the ‘Presentation of Jesus at the Temple’ or the ‘Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (or Mary)’ is the when some Christians remember the time when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem to give thanks to God for giving them a son.
Although December 25th is the date when most people celebrate Christmas, there are some other dates as well! Some churches (mainly Orthodox churches) use a different calendars for their religious celebrations. Orthodox Churches in Russia, Serbia, Jerusalem, Ukraine, Ethiopia and other countries use the old ‘Julian’ calendar and people in those churches celebrate Christmas on January 7th.