Christmas Fast Facts

Visitors watch an ornate merry-go-round at the illuminated Dresdner Striezelmarkt Christmas market on November 26, 2010 in Dresden, Germany. The Striezelmarkt claims to be Germany's oldest Christmas market and dates back to 1434. Christmas markets have a long tradition in Germany and usually sell gluhwein, Christmas decorations and ornaments, sweets and sausages.

(CNN)Here's a look at Christmas, a popular Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.


Celebrated December 25th in the United States and other countries. In 2020, December 25th falls on a Friday.
Christmas is celebrated on January 7 in some Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Russia.
    The real date of Jesus' birth is not known.
    The Christmas story is told primarily in the Gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew in the New Testament.
    Considered the most popular Christian observance, Christmas is also celebrated as a secular family holiday.
    The word Christmas is derived from the Old English phrase Cristes maesse (Christ's mass).
    The tradition of substituting X-mas for Christmas has its origins in the early Christian church. The first letter of Jesus Christ's name is X in the Greek language.
    Many of the customs and symbols traditionally associated with Christmas originated with ancient pagan festivals and winter solstice rituals.
    The modern Christmas tree (typically evergreen conifers-usually pine, balsam or fir species) originated in Germany in the 16th century and became popular in England by the mid-19th century thanks to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, who was German.
    St. Nicholas, the real person on whom Santa Claus is based, lived in the 4th century AD in the province of Lycia on the southwest coast of Asia Minor.
    Cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with creating the current image of Santa Claus, based on his illustrations that began appearing in Harper's Weekly in 1863.

    Economic Impact

    American holiday retail sales in 2019 increased 3.4% compared to 2018, boosted by an 18.8% uptick in online sales, according to a report from MasterCard.
      The National Retail Federation projected 2019 holiday sales between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, an increase of 3.8% to 4.2% over 2018 spending.
      The United States Post Office anticipated delivering 800 million packages in the 2019 holiday season.