Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Because of the uncertainty about the month and date of Jesus's birth, several hypotheses argue that the first celebration dates back to 336 A.D. Christmas Day on December 25 represents a public holiday in many of the world's countries since it is celebrated religiously by Christians, as well as by non-Christians, who stick to the festivity for cultural reasons. While the traditional celebration regards Christmas as the nativity of Jesus, more recently, several countries celebrate Christmas Eve on December 24 instead with gift-giving and by sharing a traditional meal with family and relatives.
In Europe, a special event taking place during the Christmas holiday season is the Christmas market: a street market celebrated during the four weeks of Advent, peculiar to each country. Christmas markets found their origins in Germany where, still today, the greatest number of Christmas markets are held, generating a total sales value of two million GBP. Christmas markets are a very popular event in several countries such as Germany, France and Italy because of the combination of traditional food products, a Christmassy atmosphere and entertainment for children.
As mentioned above, Christmas is related to both tradition and a more recent trend associating such festivity gift-giving. With respect to the traditional aspect of Christmas, two main symbols stand out: the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. Christmas trees, which can be either artificial or real, are the key and unavoidable Christmas decoration in most households in Europe. Production of Christmas trees is especially relevant in Belgium. However, when looking at the Christmas tree trade market in Germany in 2015, it’s clear that the main supplier of Christmas trees was China.
Santa Claus is a legendary character of Western Christian culture, who is supposed to bring presents and gifts to children who were well-behaved during the year. For younger children, it is very common to keep the secret and let them believe in the existence of a burly, joyous, white-bearded man bringing them presents. Thus, one of the two parents usually impersonates such a character in the early age of childhood. In Italy, it is usually the mother taking such a burden for their kids. However, again in Italy, many parents struggle revealing the truth about Santa Claus.
As a result, the average planned spend on Christmas gifts is high in several countries, but it peaks in the United Kingdom where consumers’ average budget for gifts was 420 euros in 2015. Additionally, parents prefer to buy educative toys over other categories.
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