The whole family got together __ Christmas.

Meaning: Christmas is the reason for the family getting together

  • Welcome to English.SE. You could improve this question by clarifying what meaning you intend. As noted in the answers, there are many possibilities. Oct 11, 2011 at 15:39
  • for is what I would use and I would expect.
    – Kris
    Dec 25, 2012 at 5:46

4 Answers 4


The word usage is wholly dependent upon what you are trying to say with the sentence. Note that the differences, while real, are also minor. Most readers would guess the reason for the gathering.

The whole family got together at Christmas.

This implies that the family got together around Christmas time, but does not suggest that Christmas was the reason for the gathering. This can be seen in the following example:

The whole family got together at Christmas for Uncle Benny's funeral.

If you are trying to say the family gathered to celebrate the holidays, then you might say

The whole family got together for Christmas.


The whole family got together to celebrate Christmas.

  • 7
    on Christmas. Probably this would mean a particular day, December 25.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 11, 2011 at 14:15
  • 1
    You should complete your answer by noting that "at" and "on" are equivalent depending on British vs. American English. Oct 11, 2011 at 16:20
  • 2
    "on christmas" without adding '-day' sounds wrong to my BE ears - but is AE usage.
    – mgb
    Oct 11, 2011 at 19:17

It depends on what you're trying to say (as noted by others).

"On": refers to that day: "We got together on Christmas for dinner and a gift exchange." "We went to a movie on Christmas because everything else was closed."

"For": refers to purpose: "We got together for Christmas" implies that Christmas was the reason (versus the movie example above).

"Over": refers to a period of time including that day; "He went home from college for a week over Christmas."

I see that others have suggested "at", which would not have occurred to me (mid-western US English).


As Christmas describes a period of time, I think that during is the most fit:

The whole family got together during Christmas.

  • 1
    I would not say "during". I might very likely say "over".
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 11, 2011 at 11:46
  • I'd use "during" only if it was something that happened to occur coincidentally with part of the Cristmas holiday. Other uses just sound wierd.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2011 at 13:22
  • As Colin Fine notes, The family got together over Christmas sounds okay in British English. In American English, I might say The family got together during Christmas break (it seems slightly odd to me to say during Christmas, but okay to refer to the Christmas holidays, vacation, or break, presumably a holiday from school or work).
    – aedia λ
    Oct 11, 2011 at 20:04

I would say "at" is correct, but "for" would also work. It's not a preposition, but "to celebrate" is a bit more descriptive (although in a lot of cases probably untrue:) )

  • 1
    Interesting. Coming from AmE, I would have said this answer exactly opposite of you. Note the songs "I'll be home for Christmas", "Home for the Holidays", and "Bells will be Ringing" (aka: Please come home for Christmas).
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2011 at 13:27

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