In the early 19th century, Christmas was reconceived by Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, and other authors as a holiday emphasizing family, children, kind-heartedness, gift-giving, and Santa Claus.
Christmas was promoted in the East as part of the revival of Orthodox Christianity that followed the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
The gospels of Luke and Matthew describe Jesus as being born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary.
In Luke, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger.
When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information.
Most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world.
He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase." Linking Jesus to the Sun was supported by various Biblical passages.
Jesus was considered to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied by Malachi: "Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings." Such solar symbolism could support more than one date of birth.
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.