Christian or Not, Most Americans Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is the most widely celebrated religious holiday in the United States. In Christianity, the day honors the birth of Jesus. Many Christians go to church on Christmas Eve -- the night before the holiday -- or on Christmas Day. Christian ministers speak about the need for peace and understanding in the world.

Peace and harmony is the spiritual message of Christmas. But many Americans celebrate Christmas as an important, but non-religious, holiday.

Americans buy presents for family members and friends. They decorate their homes with evergreen trees and bright, colored lights. They go to parties and prepare traditional Christmas foods -- especially sweets.

Another Christmas tradition is to go caroling. A group of people walks along the street. At each house, they stop and sing a Christmas song, called a carol. Student groups also sing carols at schools and shopping centers.

Christmas is probably the most special day of the year for children. One thing that makes it special is the popular tradition of Santa Claus.

Young children believe that Santa Claus is a fat, kindly old man in a red suit with white fur. They believe that -- on the night before Christmas -- he travels through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. He enters each house from the top by sliding down the hole in the fireplace. He leaves gifts for the children under the Christmas tree.

Some people object to how much money Americans spend on Christmas. They say buying things is not the real meaning of the holiday.

So, they celebrate in other ways. For example, they make Christmas presents instead of buying them. Or they volunteer to help serve meals to people who have no homes. Or they give money to organizations that help people in the United States and around the world.


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