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In search of the Christmas-feeling , we had found out that the farm offered horse and carriage rides, as well as the opportunity to cut your own Christmas tree. We thought this sounded like the perfect Christmas activity. The weather was totally on our side as we turned into the courtyard.

Silent Night

Millions of snow crystals covering the farmlands were sparkling in the sun, and the air was cold and crisp. We could see a burning fire in the farmyard and there was a Santa Claus-dressed horse with a carriage waiting for us to jump in. The beautiful horse even had sleigh bells attached to his harness. Everything felt like a scene from a Christmas movie. After a ride we would have loved to least even longer, we were dropped off at the Christmas tree field. We thoroughly inspected virtually all the trees on the farm before finally selecting one of the Subalpine Firs.

A quick session with the saw later the tree was ready for the packing machine, and then we wedged it into our small car. Before saying goodbye, we visited the brewery house.


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The brewery house was built years ago and is the oldest building on Rolstad farm. Here the owners arrange cooking classes in bread- and pizza-making, and everything is baked in a wood-burning stone oven. Stone oven baked bread is also made for sale but was unfortunately sold out when we arrived towards the end of the day. Fortunately, both waffles and buns were available, and we feasted on the baked goods in the heat of the fireplace. While enjoying the treats, we were joined by other tree cutters.

Contemporary customs in the West

We were stoked to hear that guests from both France and the US were visiting. In Australia , where people attend open-air concerts of Christmas carols and have their Christmas dinner on the beach, Santa Claus wears red swimming trunks as well as a white beard. In most European countries, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, December 24, in keeping with the notion that the baby Jesus was born on the night of the 24th.

The morning of December 25, however, has become the time for the exchange of gifts in North America. In 17th- and 18th-century Europe the modest exchange of gifts took place in the early hours of the 25th when the family returned home from the Christmas mass.


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  • When the evening of the 24th became the time for the exchange of gifts, the Christmas mass was set into the late afternoon of that day. In North America the centrality of the morning of the 25th of December as the time for the family to open presents has led, with the exception of Catholic and some Lutheran and Episcopal churches, to the virtual end of holding church services on that day, a striking illustration of the way societal customs influence liturgical practices.

    Given the importance of Christmas as one of the major Christian feast days, most European countries observe, under Christian influence, December 26 as a second Christmas holiday. This practice recalls the ancient Christian liturgical notion that the celebration of Christmas, as well as that of Easter and of Pentecost , should last the entire week. The weeklong observance, however, was successively reduced to Christmas day and a single additional holiday on December Eastern Orthodox churches honour Christmas on December However, for those that continue to use the Julian calendar for their liturgical observances, this date corresponds to January 7 on the Gregorian calendar.


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    • The churches of the Oriental Orthodox communion celebrate Christmas variously. For example, in Armenia , the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion , the church uses its own calendar; the Armenian Apostolic Church honours January 6 as Christmas.

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      Congregations of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria follow the date of December 25 on the Julian calendar, which corresponds to Khiak 29 on the ancient Coptic calendar. With the spread of Christianity beyond Europe and North America, the celebration of Christmas was transferred to societies throughout the non-Western world. In many of these countries, Christians are not the majority population, and, therefore, the religious holiday has not become a cultural holiday.

      Christmas customs in these societies thus often echo Western traditions because the people were exposed to Christianity as a religion and cultural artifact of the West.

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      In South and Central America , unique religious and secular traditions mark the Christmas celebration. Christmas is a great summer festival in Brazil , including picnics, fireworks, and other festivities as well as a solemn procession of priests to the church to celebrate midnight mass. In some parts of India the evergreen Christmas tree is replaced by the mango tree or the bamboo tree, and houses are decorated with mango leaves and paper stars.

      Christmas largely remains a Christian holiday and is otherwise not widely observed. Japan serves as illustration of a different sort. Article Media.

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      Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Origin and development Contemporary customs in the West Contemporary customs in Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy Contemporary customs in other areas. Written By: Hans J. Britannica Demystified. No one knows when Jesus was born, so why celebrate his birth on December 25? Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica.

      Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Christmas is celebrated on December 24 with the traditional Julskinka ham. Glogg, a mulled, spiced wine, is also enjoyed during this season. Now the Christmas tree is a fixture of Finnish Christmas celebrations, which also involve special foods, including rice porridge made with milk and cinnamon , a baked glazed ham,….