Christmas Day is a holiday in many, but not all, countries. Many homes have Christmas trees and other decorations in the weeks leading to Christmas Day. Some workplaces hold Christmas parties prior to December 25. Festive activities include exchanging presents, singing Christmas songs, going to parties.
It’s a special time when children get presents from family, friends and Santa Claus, or Father Christmas. Christmas cards are also given or sent out prior to Christmas Day.
For some, Christmas is an exclusive family affair, while others invite friends to a Christmas buffet or pot luck meal. Churches have special services and may include a crèche or miniature Nativity scene.
How Do We Celebrate Christmas?
Today’s rich mosaic of Christmas customs dates back through the ages from around the worl. For example, the candles and lights associated with Christmas, meant to symbolize guiding beacons for the Christ child, may have evolved from the Yule log, which was lit to entice the Sun to return as part of the jol(Yule) festivalin pagan Scandinavia.
Here are two more popular Christmas traditions and how they originated:
How did the idea of a Christmas tree start?
Its origin is probably within winter celebrations long before the beginning of Christianity. The practice of decorating a tree, or using plants and trees that were green year-round, was important for people in winter climates. Some cultures believed evergreens would keep witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and even illness at bay. During the Middle Ages, December 24 was celebrated as the Feast of Adam and Eve, complete with a Paradise Tree, which was a fir tree hung with red apples. Today, the practice of using decorated evergreen trees as part of the Christian celebration of Christmas is a custom begun in Germany over 400 years ago that spread rapidly throughout northern Europe and, hence, became a tradition transplanted to the New World by European immigrants.
How did the custom of giving Christmas presents originate?
The ancient Romans gave each other gifts on the calends (first day) of January, and the practice spread throughout the Roman Empire. Eventually, Christians moved the custom to December 25, although many Christians still give gifts on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the manifestation of Jesus’ divine nature to the Magi.
Best Christmas gifts of 2021:
Compared with both pricier and cheaper trees, the National Tree Company Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-D12-75) strikes a good balance of cost, realism, and ease of setup. Offering nearly 2,000 lifelike polyethylene branch tips surrounding a core clad with very fake PVC “pine needles,” it has a construction similar to that of other high-quality artificial trees—but at 37% polyethylene, a higher-than-average proportion of those lifelike branches, it creates a more convincing illusion of a living tree.
Its 750 built-in LED bulbs fill its branches nicely, and the lights can switch from all-white to multicolor to a mix of the two, giving it uncommon versatility. And whereas some trees require you to hunt down the light strings’ plugs among the foliage and manually connect them, this tree’s trunk-mounted PowerConnect system automatically does the job for you when you stack its three sections together.
Right out of the box, without any of the fluffing of branches that all artificial trees require, Puleo’s 7.5-foot Royal Majestic Douglas Fir Downswept Tree (RMDD-75QC8) looked so lifelike that a staff writer walking by commented, “It looks like a real tree.” Puleo augments its realistic polyethylene branch tips with subtle color variations such as lighter-green ends simulating new growth, creating one of the most convincing illusions we’ve seen on any artificial tree. Its lights connect automatically via wiring in the sections of trunk, making setup easy.
Unlike on all our other picks, though, the lights on this tree are traditional incandescents, not LEDs, and moreover, they come only in clear. But if you prefer the warmer glow of incandescents, that’s a feature, not a bug. And unlike with some incandescent Christmas lights, the rest of the bulbs keep working even if one bulb burns out.
If you really want to make a statement, this massive 12-foot tall tree will do the trick. Reviewers say it’s very full and easy to put together. “If you remember the old school trees where you had a hundred little color coded branches that had to be sorted and put in the right slots, you’ll appreciate the hinged design and the fact that it comes in just 2 parts. You do have to spend a little time unbending and spreading all the branches, but that’s part of the fun. I got ours set up in about 30 minutes.”
The new 9th Gen iPad looks just like the 8th Gen update, and that’s (mostly) OK. The A13 Bionic chip gives the 2021 iPad that necessary bump in performance to keep it speeding along, as iPadOS 15 brings more machine learning tricks like LiveText. The iPad’s screen is still bright and colorful, and just what it needs at this price point. Also, Apple’s sticking with its first-gen Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio for its supported Apple-made accessories, which many may find easier to use than third-party Bluetooth options.
The Pencil will come in handy for Scribble-based annotation, and the keyboard will help take advantage of the improved keyboard shortcut support. Sound is still good, as is battery life, the only thing we don’t like about the iPad is that the iPad mini and iPad Air are making it look even older than its design is. Added support for Apple’s finer accessories would be great, but it still has a headphone jack (no other iPad does), which is a win for the wired headphones crowd.
For a lot of customers, price makes the big difference, so Amazon could have coasted when it comes to the $50 Fire 7 tablet. Fortunately, the most recent iteration of the company’s cheapest slate packs a snappy quad-core 1.3 GHz processor, which helps you navigate apps and browse the web faster than you’d expect from a tablet this cheap. And while previous Fire tablets made you tap to activate Alexa — which made no sense, it’s meant to be summoned with your voice — the Fire 7 finally added voice triggers for the digital assistant.
Just don’t expect any frills that come with more expensive tablets. The Fire 7 tablet’s sub-HD screen is not sharp enough for anyone used to an iPad, and its lock screen is filled with ads unless you pay extra. Still, it’s a great pick for kids looking for a media consumption device.
Samsung’s honing in on what makes a tablet perfect. The Galaxy Tab S7 has the slim-bezel/all-screen look that you should get for a tablet above $500. It’s also got a bright, vibrant display that’s super crisp. Plus, over 13 hours of battery life. And while DeX mode isn’t exactly perfect yet — app developers need to take it into consideration — a windowed Android app interface makes for decent productivity, which I noticed while watching nature videos in Android while I wrote parts of my review in Google Docs.
Samsung needs to refine its Book Cover Keyboard though, if it wants to truly compete with the iPad Pro. The S7’s keyboard has too-small number keys for many, and the two-piece nature of the Book Cover Keyboard (a $199 extra add on) is frustrating. Also, Android app developers need to give some polish to their apps’ DeX mode version, and when the performance of the Snapdragon 865+ pales in testing compared to the Core i5 and A12Z chips, the Tab S7 isn’t the iPad Pro killer Samsung may want it to be. While many may go for a cheaper Android tablet, it’s great to see Samsung giving Android users a tablet that can go toe-to-toe with the iPad Pro.
Though they come at a hefty price, the best overall wireless earbuds you can buy are Sony’s WF-1000XM4. They offer superb, warm, detailed sound quality and top-tier active noise cancellation. And their impressive battery life can stretch to eight hours of continuous listening with noise cancellation turned on, enough to outlast all of Sony’s top competition.
The WF-1000XM4s have a premium, matte black (or light gray) design with stylish rose gold accents. Most earbuds come with standard silicone ear tips, but Sony includes foam-style tips that expand in your ears to create an excellent seal that, together with the noise cancellation, do an impressive job at hushing the outside world.
Sometimes all you need are the fundamentals, and that’s where Jabra’s Elite 3 earbuds manage to rise above the crowded field of sub-$100 competition. Their sound puts some emphasis on the bass but still manages to come through nicely balanced overall with very good clarity for this price range.
The earbuds last for up to seven hours of continuous playback, and the compact case holds three additional charges. Their large physical buttons are easy to use, and the earbuds are rated IP55 for dust and water resistance.
The Elite 3s lack the multipoint feature that Jabra has long been known for — that’s the main sacrifice you make for the price — but in an improvement from past models, either earbud can be used standalone in mono mode. And they’re extremely comfortable to wear for long stretches. You don’t get features like active noise cancellation or wireless charging (though Jabra does include a so-so transparency mode), but the Elite 3s perform reliably with a strong Bluetooth signal. They’re a terrific value for the money.
Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are neck and neck with Sony when it comes to the effectiveness of their active noise cancellation — and probably a hair better. Like their main rival, the QC Earbuds have a fit and finish that exudes quality.
With Bose’s mobile app, you can dial in the level of noise cancellation that’s perfect for the environment you’re in. Their charging case is a bit chunky, but it supports wireless charging. The QC Earbuds also handle voice calls better than most, so that’s another plus in exchange for their pricey cost.
10. Razer Blade 15
The latest spin of the Razer Blade 15 once again improves on one of the best gaming laptops ever made. It has the same gorgeous CNC-milled aluminum chassis as its predecessor, only this time it can house one of Nvidia’s latest RTX 30-series GPUs and an Intel 10th Gen CPU.
We’ve played with the Razer Blade 15 Advanced with a 10th Gen Intel chip and RTX 3080 (95W) GPU inside it. And we fell in love all over again. These latest models up the graphics processing even further, with support for up to the 8GB RTX 3080, which is incredible in this small chassis. You will get some throttling because of that slimline design, but you’re still getting outstanding performance from this beautiful machine.
One of the best things about the Blade 15 is the number of configurations Razer offers for it. From the GTX 1660 Ti Base Edition, all the way up to the RTX 3080 Advanced with OLED 4K panel, there’s something for almost everyone. It’s one of the most beautiful gaming laptops around and still powerful.
Not everyone needs the thinnest or the most powerful gaming laptop. Sometimes just lightweight and speedy are fine. Striking a healthy balance between portability, performance, and price is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The original machine was an impressive RTX 2060 Max-Q notebook whose incredible AMD CPU performance managed to impress our dedicated team of hardware testers at the top-secret PC Gamer lab.
The G14 is still a great laptop; especially now, we’re getting the RTX 3060 update in that smart chassis. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is a reliable 14-inch system with high-end graphics that rivals even some gaming desktops despite being loud.
12. Dell G3 15
Let’s face it, trying to find a quality gaming laptop on a budget can be a chore. You have to make compromises in areas like performance, design, and even battery life. Thankfully, the Dell G3 15 offers decent 1080p gaming with configurations under $1,000, and the battery life is actually good.
The most significant improvement from its previous model is its slimmer, sleeker design. With thinner bezels around a 144Hz display, the sleeker design gives it a more high-end vibe. It’s a welcome toned-down look, in case you’re hoping for a gaming laptop that doesn’t shout ‘gamer’ as soon as you pull it out of your bag. The display itself seems the only downside, not having as rich a color range as the other gaming laptops on this list.
13. MSI GS66 Stealth
The MSI GS66 is one hell of a machine: It’s sleek, slick, and powerful. But it’s not Nvidia Ampere’s power without compromise, however. MSI has had to be a little parsimonious about its power demands to pack something as performant as an RTX 3080 into an 18mm thin chassis.
The top GPU is the 95W version, which means it only just outperforms a fully unleashed RTX 3070, the sort you’ll find in the Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC. But it is still an astonishingly powerful slice of mobile graphics silicon.
It can get a little loud if left to its own devices, but thankfully you have the benefits of all the Nvidia Max-Q 3.0 features at your disposal. That includes Whisper Mode 2.0, which will bring gaming down to barely audible levels, you know when you want to be stealthy.