Peace and goodwill to all men...on the Web.

You wake up one day and the world is all in shades of green and red. Walking out, you're greeted by an enthusiastic and bubbly bunch of people singing happy songs. You wonder what exactly was in that burger you ate last night...

And then it hits you. It's Christmas!

Well, cyberspace isn't too far behind. All over the Web, you come across sites dedicated to the spirit of Yuletide. And so, overcome by holly fever, we decided to make a list of all the sites needed to make your year-end a happy one.

http://www.howstuffworks.com/christmas.htm

First up, to enjoy Christmas, you have to know everything there is to know about it. And that's where this site comes in.

The site takes the viewpoint of a person trying to explain this festival to an alien called Gorg. So, you have a series of basic questions about Christmas. Now, though may seem really mundane, when you go through them, you'll probably realize that what you thought you knew wasn't really all that accurate. So, go through this and you'll know why they call it "X'mas", or what's the deal with the famous Rudolph.

Then there are links to related books, which should tell you anything else you need to know. The next couple of pages talk about the event and the magnitude of it around the world.

http://www.instar.com/mall/main-areas/santafaq.htm

After learning about the festival, you have to learn everything about the man of the moment. He goes by different names, but he has just one face - a laughing, bearded one. So, this is where you go to for information on the Saint of Christmas.

The site is small, neat and very direct. It's actually a page from another site, but it could stay up on its own. All it aims to do is tell you all about the different identities of the man who's most commonly called Santa Claus. So, you have details on St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle and some others who're not that common. There's also a decent bit of history associated with each segment.

Besides this, there is information on people who've been associated with the phenomenon of dear ol' Santa. Artists and authors who have made him famous worldwide are here, too. Quite a decent site to get all the basic ideas right.

http://www.christmas.com

This is touted as the Web's biggest site for Christmas and after surfing and surfing and surfing through it, we were thoroughly convinced. This has everything you could want!

Now, there's a lot of stuff for you to go through, so this is our suggested guide to the site. First up, go to the link which tells you exactly how many days, hours and seconds are left in different time zones for Christmas. You simply have to click on your time zone, and you'll know how long you have to wait. Then, go to "World View", which has details, by people of different nationalities, about how Christmas is celebrated in their country. This should be followed by "News and Info" which focuses on current topics related to the festival.

You then go to the "Spirit" page, stories and articles which are full of piety, love and a genuine spirit. Besides which, there are "Recipes" (which should be enough to draw you there), old music, ancient customs and some plays as well. However, for those that are into more mundane enjoyment, go to the "Fun" page. Here, you can join up to be a member of the "Elves In Black". You'll receive a certificate and can take part in the various games online.

Finally, you can do all your shopping here, with help from the site as to what you should buy. All this can be done while listening to their music channel which features great Christmas songs by Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Bing Crosby. Now do you believe us when we said this site was exhaustive and exhausting?

http://www.geocities.com/~bug_hut/Christmas1997/contents.html

O.K. So you know what Christmas is about, you know everything about Santa, you know what life was like back in the 1900's. What next? Well, wouldn't you like some animation on your desktop?

This is the best site amongst the whole lot out there. For starters, the graphics offered are far superior to any of the others. Also, this site is well designed and is visually appealing. You can either view the images from 1997 or 1998 - either way, they're good.

There are lots of images of snowmen, angels, reindeer, bells, candy, wreaths...the list goes on. But this should be enough for you to get stuff to decorate whatever it is you want to decorate.

http://www.spacestars.net/users/disyme/xmas.html/index.html

Christmas today is all about bright lights, gaudy advertisements and miles of shopping queues. But have you ever wondered what it must have been like a century ago? If you have, or if this question has piqued your interest, then this site is for you.

"100 Years Ago Christmas" is a site which has photographs of a family taken through the years 1898 to 1914. There are many things to see on this site. First up, we suggest you go through the item index, which shows all the trees put up during these years. The quaint decorations, simple settings and absence of gaudy tinsel leads a wave of nostalgia for simple times lost to business. Once you're through with these, you look at them closely in the "Close-Ups".

You should then go to "Living in 1900", which has details on life way back then. It also tells you all about Christmas shopping, the type of gifts that were bought, the way of life back then and more. If this interests you, you could then check out the costumes...sorry, clothes they wore back then in the "Family Photos".

The site is a nice way to get your Christmas on the right track - simple, loving and fun to go through. Enjoy.

http://www.flw.com/merry.htm

And finally, to end it all off, here's a site that does a little for world bonding.

Now, Christmas has become a worldwide event and is even celebrated by people who don't belong to the religion. Which brings to mind an interesting thought - across the world, do they all wish each other "Merry Christmas"? Of course not. So, this site is last on my feature and it gets the award for "Attempts at World Bonding". The site has a very basic premise - it lists translations for the phrase "Merry Christmas" in over 300 languages. Impressive, huh?

The site also offers details on the different languages - a little history, some links. If you're really interested, you could see the flags and listen to the anthems of the different countries where these languages are spoken.

And that's about it for this year. See you on the other side!

This article was first published on 31 Jan 2001.