The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
The medieval calendar relied on the main religious saints days to provide the festivals and entertainment, in what otherwise was for most people, a dull and structured existence.
Chief among these festivals was that of Christmas, a period given over to both devotion and feasting in equal measure. The surname of Christmas can be either job-descriptive for a person responsible for arranging the annual festivity, or romantically given to one born on Christmas Day.
The first recording (below) would seem to be that of a resident at a monastery, although not a monk, ad they were both celibate and non-surname bearing. To add validity to the job-descriptive background, was Gerard Christmas, who from 1619 to 1632 was the official organiser of the Lord Mayor of London's annual procession and festival.
He was also a noted wood carver, particularly famous for funeral monuments! The early recordings include: Ralph Christemasse, of Suffolk, in 1191; Richard Cristemes, of Cambridge, in 1308; whilst in 1626, Thomas Christmas married Dorothie Leesie by Civil Licence in London.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Cristemesse, which was dated 1185, in the "Rotuli Dominus Rolls of Essex", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath.
Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.
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.