Here in the Netherlands, Christmas rarely involves gifts. It depends on the family of course, but traditionally we exchange gifts for Sinterklaas
on December 5th instead. As in the states with Santa Claus, this is a fictional character for the younger kids, whereas the older crowd, although not 'believing' anymore, follows the same spirit (basically just what you guys call Secret Santa). Christmas on the other hand is more of a family get-together, which does have some minor Christian feel to it with all the Biblical stories and everything, but our family mostly consists of atheïsts and agnosts and it doesn't change anything.
For my family, it's generally the most important get-together. Since my sister and I have both moved to other cities for Uni and neither of us goes to the folks that often, and if we do somehow both go there at the same time we tend to have different plans elsewhere in the city - we're rarely together as a family under a single roof for more than a couple of hours. I generally go to my parents on Christmas day and spend a couple of days there, but spend NYE at home (i.e. on campus).
Additionally, it's the only time of year that our campus feels truly deserted. In my first year the vacation weeks started early so a lot of people went to their folks before it was actually Christmas - I spent five days on campus before going to my parents, and it felt like I was the only one there. Especially compared to the whole get-together feel of the holiday, it was pretty depressing.
NeatNit wrote:Christmas feels like a perfect world science fiction day for me. Never seen one in person.
Considering the holiday's background and where you live, that's ever-so-slightly ironic.