15. Christmas Day

The Christmas season and all its activities are geared to the big day,
Dec. 25, which is Christmas Day. The word Christmas is derived from Middle
English ‘Christemasse’ and Old English ‘Cristes maesse,’ both of which means
‘Christ’s Mass.’ The day is celebrated by Christians as the day that Jesus
Christ was born, although the true date of Jesus’ birth isn’t really known.
Given the religious significance of Christmas Day, it therefore follows
that attending church is a big tradition on that day. It is seen as mandatory
for devout Christians and for others who are concerned about retaining the
sacred meaning of the day. Many people fear that the sacred aspects of Christmas
are being lost and overshadowed amid the bustle of commercial activity now
associated with the entire season.
Church services therefore take place early on Christmas morning. Attending
those services is the first official activity that many people do on Christmas
Day. Unlike the Midnight Mass and other earlier church services on Christmas
Eve, Christmas Day services do not usually include the dramatization of the
birth of Jesus. They may be more subdued with a sermon that recounts the birth
of Jesus and his purpose to save mankind. The congregation is then exalted to be
as giving as Jesus and to help out those who are in need.
Consequently, many people will take some time on Christmas Day to
volunteer in a charitable activity such as serving dinner to the poor and hungry
at a church, charitable organization or other social services center. Others
will also work with charitable organizations to distribute toys to needy
children at shelters, hospitals and other places.
As part of the religious aspect of Christmas Day, groups that sing Christmas
carols will also be out very early on Christmas morning.
Although Christmas Dinner is the most significant meal of the day, a large
breakfast will also be served in most households that will be shared by all
family members. The occasion of all family members having a meal together is a
disappearing tradition in many American households and so Christmas is seen as a
perfect time to return to the tradition. Christmas Day after all, is all about
family, sharing and togetherness.
Throughout the day, greetings of ‘Merry Christmas’ will be exchanged by
telephone calls with family, friends, acquaintances, and loved ones who are
located elsewhere in the country and overseas. It is a common occurrence for so
many people to be trying to make international calls to loved ones and friends
on Christmas Day that telephone communication systems to some countries often
are overwhelmed. The availability of technology and the Internet eases that
somewhat nowadays however, as emails and instant messaging can also be used as
other communication channels to exchange greetings on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day Dinner is undoubtedly the central activity of the day. Family and
friends gathered for dinner take pleasure in enjoying and sharing a delicious
meal and also are mindful and thankful for the opportunity to be able to share
the meal, to have each other and for the material things that make their lives
comfortable and give them happiness.
Some of those material things are then shared in absolute delight as everyone
will gather around or near to the Christmas tree after dinner to exchange and
open Christmas presents. It’s an activity that is relished and which is filled
with much laughter, happy chatter and merriment, especially by children who are
usually much delighted to get a toy that they had wished for.
After dinner and the exchange of presents, adults may have light conversations,
play games or even watch a movie. Children are often taken up with experimenting
or playing with their new toys. It has also become a tradition on Christmas Day
for members of some families, such as teenagers and young adults, to end
Christmas Day by attending the movie theater on Christmas evening or Christmas
night to see a recently released film.