Another year, another round of lazy claims that Christmas is a taking over of some pagan winter festival. There is of course a universal need for winter festivals. But the dating of Christmas derives from the Jewish Hanukkah, not from the pagan Saturnalia or anything else.
No British or Irish Christmas custom derives from paganism. There is little, if any, fokloric pagan continuation in these islands; and little, if anything, is known about pre-Christian religion here. Most, if not all, allegations to the contrary derive from Protestant polemic against practices originating in the Middle Ages, and usually the Late Middle Ages at that. The modern religion known as Paganism is an invention from scratch, the very earliest roots of which are in the late nineteenth century.
Furthermore, the dating of Christmas from that of Hanukkah raises serious questions for Protestants, who mistakenly exclude the two Books of Maccabees from the Canon because, along with various other works, they were allegedly not considered canonical at the time of Jesus and the Apostles.
In fact, the rabbis only excluded those books specifically because they were likely to lead people into Christianity, and they are repeatedly quoted or cited in the New Testament, as they were by Jewish writers up to their rabbinical exclusion. Even thereafter, a point is made by the continued celebration of Hanukkah, a celebration thanks to books to which Jews only really had access because Christians had preserved them, since the rabbis wanted them destroyed.
Indeed, far from being the mother-religion that it is often assumed to be, a very great deal of Judaism is actually a reaction against Christianity, although this is by no means the entirety of the relationship, with key aspects of kabbalah actually deriving from Christianity, with numerous other examples set out in Rabbi Michael Hilton's The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM Press, 1994), and so on. Hanukkah bushes, and the giving and receiving of presents at Hanukkah, stand in a tradition of two-way interaction both as old as Christianity and about as old as anything that could reasonably be described as Judaism.