In addition to this, observant Christians often display a "nativity scene" (small wooden or plastic figures representing those present at Jesus' birth) in their home and attend a special Christmas program at their church.  (Members of the Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas on January 7.)

Food Traditions

Christmas food traditions vary a great deal, influenced by geography, culture, and climate. Most European Christians enjoy their Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, while Americans tend to hold a festive meal on Christmas Day. A large variety of food and drink is consumed around the world. In Australia, for example, Christmas occurs in midsummer and barbecued meats are often served, with ice cream or sorbet for dessert. The preferred meal in Germany is roasted goose with vegetables. Traditional Christmas pudding and mince pies are eaten in many homes in Britain. In the United States, typical Christmas foods include turkey, ham, goose, fruitcake, cookies, and pumpkin pie.

Recipes

photo courtesy of pixelthing via C.C. License at FlickrGingerbread cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 ½-inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.