In the XIXth century, Christmas still had a strong religious connotation for the majority of Anglophones. Like Francophones, the English celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas while they reserved New Year's for presents and family celebrations.
Towards the end of the XIXth century, however, there appears to have been a trend towards gift-giving and merry-making at Christmas rather New Year's Day. Little by little, the religious sense of the celebration of Christmas and the Nativity lost ground to the communal and commercial characteristics of this holiday for the English. On the other hand, this shift from the sacred to profane came after the First World War for Francophones.