Here in Hungary, Christmas happens twice. On Christmas itself, families get together and exchange gifts over a large meal. Kids also get some gifts from the baby Jesus. This usually takes place on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day. Going to church either for Midnight Mass or on Christmas morning is also a big part of the Christmas celebration for many families. Nowadays, this celebration is usually split up similarly to how it is in America: Christmas Eve with one side of the family, Christmas Day with the other side. All in all, the Christmas celebrated at Christmas itself is a quiet family affair.
On December 6th, however, the silly and public Christmas takes place. This is known as Mikulas Napja, or Saint Nicholas's Day. St. Nick's Day is the day when people wear Santa hats and, to some extent, give gifts outside of the family. St. Nick's Day, more than anything else, though, is for children. On the evening of December 5th, children put out their shoes (or in most cases, boots!) for Santa to fill up with gifts during the night. Today, most kids get gifts bigger than their shoes, but the tradition was that the gifts would fit into the shoes. It's like our stockings in America: nowadays, where most kids would be rather upset if they only got a stocking full of gifts! There is also a LOT of candy involved in this day, and little chocolate Santas are gifted and regifted for the days around it. Older kids scoff at the concept that Mikulas actually brings the gifts, and parents admonish them to be quiet around their younger siblings. Santa also has a naughty helper, Krampus, who is a little black demon-esque thing that takes care of delivering coal to bad children... and whipping people on the street with reeds, though this is more extreme in northern Europe.
The only really bad part of Mikulas is that it isn't a public holiday, so kids have to go to school! As you can imagine, very little actually gets done on that day.
When I say that St. Nick's day is for the children, I mean that it's for the children in your own life. I, for example, brought muffins into class for my home room kids. It also means that, as an "adopted child" in my roomie's family, I got invited to their house to celebrate. We had a big lunch with cake at the end, and I got my very own dark chocolate Santa to munch on. The table was all done up with red and green and on the whole it was entirely lovely.
I rather like the concept of having two separate Christmases. For one, it makes the whole month of December festive. For another, you get to focus on the two spheres of your life, the public and the private, individually and thus give them each the attention they deserve. Spain also does this, with the Three Kings bringing kids their gifts on January 6th, and so do many other countries. I know that many families are stressed about keeping Christmas separate from the commercial side of it, especially as that side becomes more and more intense and ridiculous. So maybe everyone throughout the world should do this. It doesn't have to be any particular day. Just choose another day, and have your intimate, family Christmas on one day and the fun, commercial Christmas on another. After all, too much Christmas is never a bad thing!