young people celebrating Christmas

Family gatherings, turkey, parties, Christmas songs and presents … Christmas is one of the biggest holidays of the year! 


Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises to check your understanding.

The origins of Christmas

In ancient times people had mid-winter festivals. They believed that the festivals would help the sun to return after the long winter. In the year 440, the Christian Church decided that the birth of Christ should be celebrated every year on 25 December. Christians started to include some of the mid-winter festival traditions in their Christmas celebrations, including decorating their homes with green plants. Today, a Christmas tree and other plants such as holly are still used to decorate many homes in December. 

Cards and presents

In some parts of the world, it's common to send Christmas cards to people you know. These are cards with a picture on the front and a message inside to say 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year'. But people send fewer cards than in the past as they now send Christmas greetings online by email, message or social media.

People usually give presents to their close friends and family. Traditionally, the giving of a present is a symbol of the Three Wise Men giving their gifts to the baby Jesus. Christmas presents are wrapped in colourful paper or put in a bag or a box so that you can't see what's inside. Then, they are put under the Christmas tree, and you have to wait until Christmas Day, 25 December, to finally open them. It's fun to pick up the present, shake it and guess what it is!

Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus)

Young children can tell Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, exactly what presents they would like to receive. They can write him a letter with a list of their requests, or they can even ask him personally as some department stores have special 'Meet Father Christmas' events. On the night of 24 December, Father Christmas travels through the sky on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and delivers presents to all the children. How does he deliver all those presents so quickly? Christmas magic of course! 


When many people think of Christmas, they think of snow! You often see it on Christmas cards, you can buy fake snow to decorate your house and there are even songs about snow at Christmas. In the UK, though, snow at Christmas is actually quite rare! So, it's really special to have a white Christmas. 


In the UK, the main Christmas meal is called Christmas dinner. Even though it’s called 'dinner', it's eaten at lunchtime. People have it on 25 December, and it takes a long time to cook all the food, which usually includes roast turkey, vegetables and potatoes. There are also lots of alternatives to the turkey dinner for vegetarians who prefer a meat-free Christmas. For dessert, there's a rich, fruity cake called Christmas pudding.

Traditionally, a Christmas cracker is placed next to each person. When you pull the cracker with the person next to you, it makes a 'bang' noise, and a paper hat, a joke and a small gift fall from the cracker. You wear the hat, tell the joke to the other people at the table and keep the gift.


Do you celebrate Christmas? If you do, what do you like best about it? If not, tell us about your favourite holiday of the year.

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Submitted by Vera Muñoz on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:32

I celebrate christmas every year with all my family in a rural house and I love it! My favorite moment is decorating my house and put the christmas tree with my father, The night of the 31st we prepare a tematic party to eat the 12 grapes and start the year toguetgher and with original costumes. I really love Chritmas!!

Submitted by alicia_camps on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:32

I usually celebrate Christmas in New York with my family and some friend. We love the view of one of the best room of the Empire State that is of my father's best friend. You can see everything eliminated from the 104th floor and we drink the 12 grapes as is traditional in Spain. We laugh a lot and tell anecdotes about our year. I am very grateful to my family for that trip every year.

Submitted by DavidM.Mtez on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:31

Hi! I usually celebrate Christmas with my family from my mother's side, which live in Jerez; from my biological father's side, who live in Valencia; and from my step-father's side, who live in Ciudad Real. We meet all together in 24th and 31st december to have a great meal all together. There often aren't many presents, just for small children, but it isn't a problem as we just want to enjoy our holidays spending time with each other. In Spain, it's tradition to eat some sweets such as nougat and polka dots.

Submitted by maria_perezc on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:29

Every year on Christmas my family and I gather to have dinner and spend time together. I have a very big family, so we need prepare a lot of food, but it's very fun. My grandmother spends all day long preparing it, and of course we help her too. In Spain when it's new year we eat 12 grapes, one for each second of the last 12 seconds of the year. So you have to be very careful and try not to choke on them! The little ones of the family can have other things like small chocolate balls that are easier to swallow. After that, we all toast with champagne (with and without alcohol) and wish everyone a happy new year. I love Christmas!

Submitted by Paulitarodri on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:29

In my family it is a tradition to celebrate New Year's Eve all together with my mother's family. On December 31 we go to dinner at one of my aunts' house and we usually give each other Secret Santa. The next day we all go out to eat the leftovers and celebrate the new year.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year!

Submitted by Luis Bastante on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:25

In my country we celebrate christmas every year. Every year, I decorate my house with lots of things and also we cook christmas meals for us to eat, I really love it!. But the thing I like the most is opening the Three Wise Men presents. This experienece is the best of the world, I love Christmas!!!!!!

Submitted by mr-070 on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:20

The best thing about Christmas is the gifts!

Submitted by oscar_laguna on Wed, 12/13/2023 - 11:16

Hello, I spend every Christmas with my family. I usually spend Christmas Eve with my mother's family and Christmas Day too, but when New Year's Eve comes, I spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Eve with my father's family and the Three Wise Men. step with my cousins ​​making an invisible friend

Submitted by Tsutsuna on Fri, 12/23/2022 - 14:30

I use to celebrate Christmas with my family, and I actually think it's my favourite festivity. First of all, in this period of the year, I use to cook with my mum, the Christmas habit that I prefer the most. Then, I use to play boardgames with my brother and my friends, but also watching to Christmas movies is not bad at all, especially with an hot tea and a comfy rug. Spending time with my relatives is actually funny and relazing and Christmas lunch is just amazing, because my granny cook it and she is a unique. I think it's clear: I love Christmas!

Submitted by Betty on Fri, 01/14/2022 - 17:33

Hello! I usually celebrate New Year with my family. We go to my grandparents and decorate the house . For dinner we eat some meat or fish. We open the gifts under the Christmas tree at midnight. Every person in Russia celebrates New Year but only religious people celebrate Christmas.
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Fri, 06/11/2021 - 12:46

In my country, we celebrate Christmas very similar to the UK's Christmas. We stay the day with our family, we decorate our house with a tree, with shiny yellow and red balls. Unfortunately, it doesn't snow here... so the weather of the Christmas is the same of the almost hole year. And here we eat the turkey as dinner. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
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Submitted by Batgirl on Sun, 03/18/2018 - 20:12

I celebrate Christmas every year and I really love it! The best for me is decorating house with different lights, glitters and shiny balls. And of course spending tome with my family!3
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