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For most Americans, the most important holiday of the year is Christmas. Although Christmas is a holiday celebrated in many nations, there's no denying that America makes a bigger celebration and holiday out of Christmas than any other nation in the world. Perhaps this is because no nation has altered or adapted a holiday as much in the twentieth century as Americans have Christmas.
Originally, Christmas was strictly a day for religious observation, and it has been observed that:
the world 'Christmas' means the mass of Christ from the Old England Christes Maesse, which is celebrated by the Western church on December 25 . . . and that the day of nativity was not generally observed until the fifth century A.D. (Durant 63).
In its original form, Christmas was a day of holy observation, not a day of celebration.
So we see that the first major change of Christmas has been that of gradually changing it from a religious holiday to a secular holiday. This is a process that has been going on in many other nations, particularly those of Western Europe, and yet there's no denying that Americans have accelerated the secularization of Christmas more than any other nation.
Part of this is due to a decline in religious observance in the twentieth century in America, and as etiquette expert Miss Manners observed, people's attitudes are changing about Christmas in America, so that they see Christmas changing "from a religious holiday that they do not celebrate to a winter festival
. . .
as tree should notice that all the ornaments which Americans choose to hang on the tree are secularly themed, and that it is rare to see ornaments hanging on a tree whose purpose is to remind people that Christmas was originally a religious holiday. But perhaps the greatest influence and change Americans have wrought on Christmas celebrations is the shifting of emphasis from the figure of Jesus Christ to that of Santa... [continues]
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