Many, all over the globe celebrate Christmas Day. Most Protestants and Roman Catholics and some Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. Before the 19th century, many Americans worked on Christmas, but in the industrial era the holiday began also to honor universal values, such as home, children and family life, and to incorporate secular customs like exchanging gifts and cards, and the decoration and display of evergreen Christmas Trees. Congress proclaimed Christmas one of the first federal holidays in 1870. In 1999, a federal court acknowledged these secular aspects in rejecting a claim that the holiday impermissibly endorsed and furthered a particular religious belief.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed moving the Thanksgiving holiday to extend the shopping period between that holiday and Christmas. Seasonal “Christmas shopping” began to assume economic importance.This extended Christmas season is about far more than shopping.For many Americans, it is a period of general good will and an occasion for charitable and volunteer work. To some extent, non-Christian holidays celebrated at roughly the same time of year–most prominently the African-American Kwanzaa and the Jewish Hanukkah–blend into a broader “holiday season.” As with so many aspects of U.S. cultural life, Christmas in the United States reflects the values of a giving, free and diverse people.
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