During the second century A.D., Christians began celebrating the birth of Christ as a substitute for the last day of the pagan festival Saturnalia. Over time, it became both a holy feast day and, like Saturnalia, a day of celebration.
Other Christmas traditions were integrated over time. For instance, the tradition of stockings probably came from Holland, as did the Santa Claus most commonly recognized in America. Dutch children set out their shoes to be filled with goodies by Sinterclaas. The Christmas tree came from Germany and may originally have been a means to honor the Norse god Baldur. Rudolph was a character created for a Montgomery Ward marketing campaign in the late 1930s. Ultimately, though the tradition of celebrating Christmas began in second century Rome, the different American traditions surrounding the day came from many different cultures, including the American culture.