Christmastide (also Christmas Time or the Christmas season) is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian churches. In some Christian denominations, Christmastide is identical to Twelvetide, a similar concept. For most Christian denominations, such as the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church, Christmastide begins on Christmas Eve at sunset or First Vespers, which is liturgically the beginning of Christmas Day. Most of Christmas Eve, understood as 24 December, is thus not part of Christmastide, but of Advent, the season in the Church Year that precedes Christmastide; in many liturgical calendars, Christmastide is followed by the closely related season of Epiphanytide. There are several celebrations within Christmastide, including Christmas Day (25 December), St. Stephen's Day (26 December), Childermas (28 December), the Feast of the Holy Family on New Year's Eve (31 December), the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and New Year's Day (1 January), as well as Epiphany Eve or Twelfth Night (the evening of 5 January). Customs of the Christmas season include carol singing, gift giving, seeing Nativity plays, attending church services, and eating special food, such as Christmas cake.
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