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Christmas means different things to different people. For many people it means eating a lot, spending time with family and visiting relatives and friends. For children it often means presents, presents and more presents!

The origins of Christmas

In ancient times people had mid-winter festivals. They believed that their ceremonies would help the sun's power return. The Romans decorated their homes with green plants in December to remind Saturn, their harvest god, to return the following spring. In the year 440, the Christian Church decided that the birth of Christ should be celebrated every year on 25 December.

Cards and presents

It's common to send Christmas cards to friends, family, colleagues, classmates and neighbours. Christmas is traditionally a time for helping other people and giving money to charities. Christmas presents are reserved for close friends and family. Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus) Every year, young children tell Father Christmas exactly what presents they would like to receive. They can write him a letter or they can visit him in one of the large department stores before Christmas. On the night of 24 December, Father Christmas travels through the sky on a sleigh and delivers presents to children.

Turkey and crackers

Christmas dinner usually includes roast turkey and vegetables. For dessert, there's a fruit cake called Christmas pudding.

Traditionally, a Christmas cracker is placed next to each person. When you pull the cracker, you hear a loud 'bang!' and a paper hat, a joke and a small gift fall from the cracker.

Most people agree that Christmas is as much about giving as it is about getting. It's a time for the whole family to get together and enjoy being with each other.

Activity 1 - True or false

Are the sentences true or false?

1. Some modern Christmas traditions date from Roman times.  True False

2. People send money to friends, family, colleagues and neighbours at Christmas. True False

3. Santa Claus is another name for Father Christmas. True False

4. A Christmas cracker is a type of dessert. True False


1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False

To find more English language activities visit www,britishcouncil.org/learnenglishteens

(c)British Council 2018