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 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!
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