Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus. In Western churches, it is always celebrated on December 25, and the Christmas season always continues for twelve days (as in the popular song) until the Day of Epiphany (January 6). There will be one or two Sundays in the Christmas season. The date reflects an observance of the churches of Rome in the fourth century, and while often thought to correspond to a pagan Roman feast, it may have been due to an early calculation of the date of Jesus’ crucifixion as March 25, considered to be the same as the date of his conception (count back nine months). No one knows for sure, but the date stuck. Christmas season’s color is white.
In response to annual requests for information about the origin and celebration of Christmas, we've compiled this resource page. The works cited range from scholarly folklore studies to popular commentaries on modern observances. Feel free to add your own links!
Links to book titles on this page will take you to the record in Emory's DiscoverE library catalog search engine (or if Emory does not own the book, to WorldCat). Links to articles take you to the full text access page, if available (usually only to Emory affiliates).
Christmas Web Sites
For a good brief introduction to Christmas traditions, see John F. Baldovin, "Christmas," in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005), 3:1756-1757. (REFERENCE BL31 .E46 2005). Available online to Emory affiliates.
2nd edition (2006) available in THEOLOGY REFERENCE: GT4985 .C74 2006
Suggested Search Terms
Some search times that will bring results for Advent and Christmas study are:
Christmas (may subdivide geographically; e.g., "Christmas Ireland")
Christmas music (narrower term: "Carols")