The major holidays in the Christian faith center around the life and death of Jesus Christ, a figure who is revered as the son of God and a prophet by Christians around the world. In communities with a large Christian population, these days are usually designated as general holidays, recognizing the fact that many people do not plan on working. Lesser Christian holidays are commemorated on individual saint's days, with some communities holding elaborate celebrations for particular saints.
For most Christians, the most important holiday is probably Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the tomb. This event is especially important to Christians because it is treated as proof of Christ's divinity. Traditionally, individuals attend church services on Easter, and often celebrate with a meal that includes lamb and other traditional foods, depending on the culture.
Chronologically, the first of the major holidays is Epiphany, which occurs on the sixth of January. This holiday celebrates the three "Wise Men" who attended the birth of Christ with gifts. The next major holiday is Ash Wednesday, which occurs 40 days before Easter, commemorating the start of Lent. During Lent, some Christians observe special dietary rules, and many devout people give something up for Lent, using these 40 days as a period of reflection and religious contemplation.
As Lent draws to a close, some Christians celebrate Holy Week, which commemorates the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through His crucifixion on Good Friday. Holy Week ends with Easter Sunday, the most important of Christian holidays discussed above. The next big holiday is Pentecost, celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, when the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon the disciples of Christ.
Many Christians around the world also celebrate Christmas, the commemoration of Christ's birth, on 25 December each year. Some also observe Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas, attending special church services during this period. Christmas celebrations can get quite elaborate, making it one of the more well-known holidays, as people exchange gifts, attend parties, and celebrate the birth of Christ.
Because the global Christian community is very active, holidays connected to the faith are celebrated on every continent, even in areas where Christians are not the dominant religious group. The period of the year between Christmas and New Years is also treated as a holiday by most people around the world, regardless of faith, because it has become so associated with celebration, sometimes to excess, and therefore little work happens during this two week period.
Not all Christians observe the major holidays, representing the immense diversity in the faith. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, only celebrate the Memorial of Christ's Death, which falls around Good Friday each year. People in this denomination believe that other holidays are pagan in nature, since they were not instituted by Christ Himself. While it is not considered a religious holiday, many Mormons observe the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints on 6 April annually, and many also believe that Christ was born on 6 April, although they celebrate Christmas as well.