Many people believe Christmas is increasingly commercial, with an emphasis on lavish gifts and feasts. So how can we return to a traditional Christmas with its simple message of love and fellowship? Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, although no one really knows when he was born - the Old Testament doesn't give a specific date. The theory is that Christmas began as a response to pagan festivities celebrating the winter solstice on December 25, and gradually spread worldwide as a day for family cheer and togetherness. Christmas is celebrated in different ways, but in the west, the traditional feast includes roast turkey with roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sausages wrapped in bacon, and lashings of rich gravy. For dessert, there's the pudding filled with raisins, nuts and cherries, and doused in flaming brandy, which is said to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, silver coins are hidden in the pudding: if you find one, you'll have good fortune. It's also traditional for everyone in the family to stir the pudding from east to west while making a secret wish. In the past, people thought it was unlucky to decorate the tree before Christmas Eve; for the same reason, it was removed by January 6. The early trees were decorated with paper flowers, sweets, candles, fruit, berries and nuts. But, as time passed, more elaborate ornaments, such as glass balls, were used. Besides the tree, people also decorated their homes with green and red plants. The poinsettia has been used since the 19th century, and other popular plants include the holly, Christmas cactus and red amaryllis. Carolling is another fun tradition. You've probably heard or sung well-loved Christmas songs such as Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, The Twelve Days of Christmas, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Jingle Bells. The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Henry Cole in London in 1843, and designed by John Callcott Horsley. Instead of sending real cards by post, many people now send e-cards through the internet. On Christmas Eve, children hang up stockings. The next morning, these are filled with fruits, nuts and small toys. The man responsible for all the presents is Santa Claus, the jolly old man with the white beard and big belly in a red suit who gives presents to good children. The practice of gift giving is believed to have started with the Magi, the three wise men from the east who came to worship the infant Jesus, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh as presents. December 26 is Boxing Day, the day to open the Christmas box and share its contents with the poor. So, why not be traditional and wait for Boxing Day to open your present!