The Christmas season, also called the holiday season (especially in the U.S. and Canada), the festive season, or simply the holidays, is an annually-recurring period recognized in Western culture and Western-influenced cultures that is generally considered to run from late October to early January, defined as incorporating at least Christmas and usually New Year's, and sometimes various other holidays and festivals. It incorporates a period of shopping which comprises a peak season for the retail sector (the "Christmas (or holiday) shopping season"), and a period of sales at the end of the season (the "January sales").
Originally, the term "Christmas season" in Western culture was considered synonymous with Christmastide, a term itself derived from Yuletide, which runs from December 25 (Christmas Day) to January 6 (Epiphany), popularly known as the 12 Days of Christmas. However, as the economic impact involving the anticipatory lead-up to Christmas Day grew in America and Western Europe into the 19th and 20th centuries, the term "Christmas season" began to become synonymous instead with the traditional Christian Advent season, the period observed in Western Christianity from the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day until Christmas Day itself. The term "Advent calendar" survives in secular Western parlance as a term referring to a countdown to Christmas Day from the beginning of December.
Christmas music comprises a variety of genres of music normally performed or heard around the Christmas season, which tends to begin in the months leading up to the actual holiday and end in the weeks shortly thereafter.
Christmas themes have long been an inspiration to artists, writers, and weavers of folklore.]neutrality is disputed[Moviemakers have picked up on this wealth of material, with both adaptations of literary classics and new stories.
Many Christmas stories have been adapted to movies and TV specials, and have been broadcast and repeated many times on TV. Since the popularization of home video in the 1980s, their many editions are sold and re-sold every year during the holiday shopping season. Notable examples are the many versions of the ballet The Nutcracker, the film It's a Wonderful Life, and the similarly themed versions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in which the elderly miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts and learns the errors of his ways. By contrast, the hero of the former, George Bailey, is a businessman who sacrificed his dreams to help his community. On Christmas Eve, a guardian angel finds him in despair and prevents him from committing suicide, by magically showing him how much he meant to the world around him.