Christmas is the common festival almost every Christian communities marks the birth of Jesus. According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to his mother, the Virgin Mary. Christians believe that the birth of Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah's arrival who will redeem the world from its sin, and would bridge the gap between God and human beings. There is no consensus among the different communities and among historians about the precise chronology of Jesus' birth.
Holiday customs and traditions associated with it assimilated the culture of consumption and also began to characterize people and families who do not hold the Christian faith. Impact holiday lifestyle of the residents of North America, for example, is far beyond its religious meaning.
Many Christmas customs, with secular and religious character, differ from country to country. The source of most practices is recognized in Germany, such as "Christmas Tree" and the granting of gifts, and they were distributed by Christian missionaries in the days when the people of Europe went from idolatry to Christianity; Some attribute them to the pagan festival of the winter solstice, marked by ancient Germans called "Yule". Scandinavian languages still refer to Christmas as "Jul". In Britain and the United States there is a custom of lighting the tree grate house known as the "Yule log". The Custom originated in the Middle Ages and is commonly used today as festive family dinner tradition. Pope Gregory I decided not to suppress the pagan customs but to integrate them into Christianity, making the transfer to Christianity easier for many nations who have converted. Over the years, the festival has received religious and secular characteristics drawn from local customs.
Until the mid-19th century the customs of Christmas were not different from Easter. Customs of the holiday included a visit to the church, a family meal and the distribution of small gifts to family members. The major change occurred in the middle of the 19th century in the United States and the United Kingdom. Department stores started to decorate their stores for the holiday as a way to attract customers. In 1862 Macy's department store in New York City was the first store where a man dressed as Santa Claus and talked to children. This practice has been adopted by other department stores, and more recently also in the 20th century by shopping malls. Another feature of the Christmas holiday added over time, in addition to numerous shopping, were Santa Claus’ and decorations as well as holiday songs playing around many of the shops.
In countries where the main culture Western-Christian, Christmas has become the most important holiday of the year, and celebrated both as religious holiday and as the a day for family unity. In countries where the accepted tradition is Eastern-Christian, it is the second most important holiday after Easter. A common tradition has it that Santa Claus - a legendary character is described as a cheerful white-bearded man is giving gifts to children that behaved nicely throughout the year.
Christmas is celebrated throughout israel with various events and festivities.