Christmas is a Christian celebration that takes place on December 25th every year. Christians recognize this day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, making it their most important holiday of the year apart from Easter.
While Christmas is a Christian holiday, hence the name, people from many different faiths take part in Christmas traditions as it has become commercialized over the years.
Christmas trees, presents, and festivals are just a few examples of how the whole community can get involved in Christmas, even those who do not believe in the religious side of things.
Overall, an estimated 45% of the world population celebrates Christmas in some way or another.
Around 31.2% of the global population follows Christianity with approximately 2.3 billion Christians total, and then there are millions more who celebrate Christmas even if it’s not in their set religious beliefs.
Check out our full article to learn more about Christmas celebrations around the world.
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How many people celebrate Christmas?
While it’s impossible to quantify exactly how many people celebrate Christmas, it’s known that 2.3 billion Christians lead the way in global Christmas celebrations.
Christians comprise 31.2% of the total people in the world, making Christianity the largest religious group followed by Islam at 24.1%.
When you factor in all the people who celebrate Christmas although it’s not in their religion, it makes sense that closer to three billion people take part in Christmas festivities.
Americans are known for their holiday spending, and the U.S. is one of the largest countries for Christmas celebrations.
According to a Gallup poll, 93% of Americans participate in Christmas, a figure that has remained fairly steady over the past few decades.
Americans of all ages and backgrounds observe Christmas, proving it’s an event that brings people together.
For the small percentage of Americans that don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s often because religion is not important in their lives, or they follow a different faith altogether.
Even for those who do participate, there are varying levels of celebration, with some families going all out and others keeping their Christmas activities to a minimum.
71% of Americans consider Christmas a strongly religious holiday, which is down from 82% in 2010.
Which countries celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is a traditional celebration of Jesus Christ and his birthday, but it’s become a much more secular holiday over the last century.
Now, Christmas is celebrated by upwards of 160 countries. Here are some of the countries that are most well-known for their Christmas celebrations:
- United States
- The Philippines
Of course, many smaller countries put on awesome Christmas celebrations, too. Throughout the globe, many traditions remain, such as church services, Christmas trees, and gifts for loved ones.
Which countries don’t celebrate Christmas?
Even with all the countries that celebrate Christmas, there are some places that don’t observe the holiday. This includes:
- North Korea
In some Middle Eastern and African countries, Christmas is not officially celebrated, although a small portion of the population takes part in personal celebrations.
There are also countries where Christmas celebrations are banned due to conflicting religious beliefs.
What are Christmas traditions?
Every country puts its own spin on Christmas celebrations. In the U.S. and other western countries, both Christmas and Hanukkah are widely recognized for the numerous gifts shared among family and friends.
This tradition has contributed to the rise of consumerism as the American retail industry capitalizes on the demand for presents in the weeks and months leading up to the December holidays.
The list of Christmas traditions celebrated by people across the world also includes:
- Christmas trees
- Greeting cards
- Santa Claus
- Ice skating
- Sleigh rides
- Lights and decor
- Advent calendars
Some countries completely shut down to allow for comprehensive Christmas celebrations, while others don’t make it an official holiday.
Each region may put a slightly different spin on the main Christmas traditions, making it especially fun and meaningful to celebrate with loved ones.
Where is Christmas an official holiday?
Christmas is officially recognized as an official holiday by most governments around the world, with some nations even observing both the December 25th date for Gregorian Christmas and January 7th for Orthodox or Julian Christmas.
Some governments that haven’t declared Christmas a legal holiday at least recognize it as a cultural day.
Pakistan and other nations with a majority Muslim population designate Christmas as a Christian-only holiday.
Some of the biggest countries where Christmas is an official holiday include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and Mexico.
These countries are a sharp contrast to places like North Korea or Afghanistan where totalitarian regimes forbid Christian celebrations.
What is the origin of Christmas?
Long before Christmas was an officially recognized holiday, it was a religious celebration honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.
The origin of this holiday and how it is celebrated in the modern age goes back to the Gregorian calendar created in 1582, which establishes Dec. 24-25 as the Christmas holidays.
The Julian calendar is older and followed by Orthodox churches in Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
According to the Julian calendar, Christmas is 13 days behind the modern calendar, so Christmas Eve is January 6th and Christmas Day follows on January 7th.
What’s interesting about both calendars is that there’s actually no proof that Jesus Christ was born precisely on any of those dates.
It wasn’t until 221 A.D., 200 years after Jesus died, that the first mention of his birthday on Dec. 25th was made in historical writings by Sextus Julius Africanus.
There are a few theories why this date was selected to represent Christ’s birth. One example is that early Christians wanted to coordinate with an ancient Roman festival to connect the sun’s rebirth with Christ’s birth.
Others believe Christians chose a date nine months from the Spring Equinox to introduce Jesus to the world.
More interesting Christmas facts
From the fact that nearly half of the world celebrates Christmas in some capacity to the variety of celebrations around the world, this Christian holiday is fascinating to many people.
Here are some more interesting Christmas facts that highlight the holiday’s significance on a global scale.
- Christmas markets. Historic Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in many countries, especially Germany which boasts the oldest Christmas market in the world. Located in Nuremberg, Germany, these markets date back to the early 1600s.
- Artificial trees. Over 60% of Americans opt for an artificial Christmas tree rather than a real one. This is due to a few reasons, such as allergies, maintenance, and safety concerns. Once upon a time, fake Christmas trees were made out of goose feathers dyed green. PVC plastic is used nowadays instead.
- Santa Tracker. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are beloved Christmas figures in many cultures, and millions of kids around the world are encouraged to believe in the magic of the holiday season. In fact, the creation of the NORAD Santa Tracker was due to a young child accidentally calling an official air defense number in search of Santa.
- Eggnog. As a beloved Christmas beverage, eggnog is popular across many cultures and the tradition actually goes back to medieval times. 13th-century monks made eggnog from spiced milk curdled with wine or ale. They added eggs and figs into the mix!