Christmastide

Christmastide (also known as Christmastime or the Christmas season) is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian churches. In some Christian denominations, Christmastide is identical to Twelvetide, a similar concept.

A Nativity scene and a Christmas tree, two popular decorations displayed by Christians during Christmastide

For most Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church, Christmastide begins on 24 December at sunset or Vespers, which is liturgically the beginning of Christmas Eve.[1][2][3][4] Most of 24 December is thus not part of Christmastide, but of Advent, the season in the Church Year that precedes Christmastide. In many liturgical calendars, Christmastide is followed at sunset on 5 January, known as Twelfth Night, by the closely related season of Epiphanytide.[5][6]

There are several celebrations within Christmastide, including Christmas Day (25 December), St. Stephen's Day (26 December), Childermas (28 December), New Year's Eve (31 December), the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ or the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1 January), and the Feast of the Holy Family (date varies). The Twelve Days of Christmas terminate with Epiphany Eve or Twelfth Night (the evening of 5 January).[7]

Customs of the Christmas season include carol singing, gift giving, attending Nativity plays, and church services,[8] and eating special food, such as Christmas cake.[9] Traditional examples of Christmas greetings include the Western Christian phrase "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" and the Eastern Christian greeting "Christ is born!", to which others respond, "Glorify Him!"[10][11]