Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
The Nativity stories of Matthew and Luke are prominent in the gospels and early Christian writers suggested various dates for the anniversary. The first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome in 336. Christmas played a role in the Arian controversy of the fourth century, but was overshadowed by Epiphany in the early Middle Ages. The feast regained prominence after 800, when Charlemagne was crowned emperor on Christmas Day.
Associating it with drunkenness and other misbehavior, the Puritans banned Christmas. It was restored as a legal holiday in 1660, but remained disreputable. In the early 19th century, Christmas was revived with the start of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church, which ushered in "the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival" as well as "special charities for the poor" in addition to "special services and musical events".
Charles Dickens and other writers helped in this revival of the holiday by "changing consciousness of Christmas and the way in which it was celebrated" as they emphasized family, religion, gift-giving, and social reconciliation as opposed to the historic revelry common in some places.
The early church was concerned with the death, resurrection and life of Christ. They essentially ignored the birth of Christ until Docetism and Gnostics asserted that Christ did not have a physical body. To assist in combating what the church considered heresy, the Roman church established a date to celebrate Christ's birth, sometime in the 4th century. Other Christian churches had done so or would do within a century. The church's assertion of a physical body was also supported by the celebration of the Epiphany, established around the same time.