Celebrated on the 24th of December, the day marks the evening before Christmas, which is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
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Related: Other National Days Celebrated on December 24th:
Why Christmas Eve?
Known also by the names Christmas Vigil and Christmas Evening, the day marks the wait for the birth of Jesus Christ. It is well known that Jesus was born at the midnight and that is why as the day ends on 24th December, there is a midnight mass to commemorate the same. While Christmas is a bigger festival than Christmas Eve, we can probably give the credit to Santa Claus for making it into a bigger event too. It is on this day when Santa Claus is supposed to be distributing presents and people hang up their stockings in anticipation of the same on Christmas Eve.
As to a particular reason on why you should Christmas Eve, there are many. It is a day to prepare yourself for the big celebration the next day, singing songs with family, getting ready to welcome Jesus’ birth and of course, receive a lot of presents. Christmas Eve has always been a time for celebrations that last long into the next day as well. Most of the countries have a public holiday or reduced work timings on Christmas Eve to allow people to celebrate this day and the next day of Christmas.
How Can We Celebrate Christmas Eve:
There are different ways in which Christmas Eve is celebrated all around the world. Almost every place or region have their own Christ masses at the toll of midnight celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course, all across the world, people look at it as a reason and opportunity to exchange gifts with their loved and dear ones.
Apart from Easter, Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year for Christians and is also the longest holiday season with the New Year coming up in just a week. People often are filled with the holiday spirit with Christmas approaching and plan for their holidays in advance. If you are wondering how to celebrate Christmas Eve, then here are a few ways to help you out.
- Christmas is probably the longest holiday of the year and there is a lot of travel associated with this holiday. You can use this chance to plan a trip with your family and friends and spend some quality time with them. Christmas Eve is a night to sing carols and spend some good time with your loved ones and you wouldn’t want to miss doing it for any reason. If you are not with your family, then you can use this as a chance to travel to your home town and spend time with them this Christmas Eve.
- You can also be part of the many different social events and parties hosted by various hosts across the world on the occasion of Christmas Eve. You can attend these events with your friends and family and have fun on the biggest holiday season, forgetting all your worries and focusing on happiness.
- There are also plenty of events organized even for the Jews who are not part of the Christmas celebrations like the Matzo Ball. The Jewish federations of your locality and other Jewish communities join hands to organize celebrations on this special day to keep up the spirit of celebration for everyone.
- If you are not a person after big celebrations, then you can definitely spend the time with your loved ones watching the many different Christmas movies. There have been plenty of movies made over the years which have a Christmas theme. If you are a movie buff, then you can spend the Christmas Eve watching these movies, which will leave you with a pleasant aftertaste.
- Cook a dinner or rather have a feast of your choice on the Christmas Eve. While there is no specific menu to enjoy on the Christmas Eve, it calls for a joyous celebration, and hence you should go all the way out on your dinner. And for those who love to have Chinese, you would be surprised to know that these establishments are probably the ones you will find to be open in America as most of the places are off during Christmas Eve and on Christmas. But there is no rigid rule on what you can have and it is entirely up to you if you even want to have pizza on Christmas Eve.
- Christmas Eve is just the right time for you to check out the lights in your locality, the decorations that people have put up for Christmas in their yards. You can just pick up some warm cookies and hot cocoa and make a round with your friends looking at the different displays.
- If you are spiritual you can use the Christmas Eve to read the story of Christmas along with family. If you have small kids, you can explain the story to them and it will make for a good way to spend time helping them to know more about this holiday.
- Since Christmas Eve is an evening with family, you can make it even more fun by playing games with each other. There are many Christmas-themed games available these days which you can make use of or you can make your own game to play. You can share your experience of the game and how you spent your time on Christmas Eve with everyone on your social media account with a #ChristmasEve.
- There is of course the midnight mass service at churches that you can be part of on the Christmas Eve. With candlelight and hymns praising God, it is another way to spend the Christmas Eve in a more spiritual manner if that is your preference. The midnight mass doesn’t always start at midnight these days.
You can also think of your way of celebrating the Christmas Eve, in a manner that brings the most joy to you and your loved ones. If you have a different celebration planned, then do share the same with others online with the hashtag of #ChristmasEve to your post. Let us know how your Christmas Eve celebrations went by this year and the best parts of the entire celebration which you enjoyed the most.
Interesting facts about Christmas Eve:
Christmas Eve is celebrated with equal fervor and passion as the day of Christmas in many countries. It is the beginning of the holiday season and the countdown to the start of another year. With many reasons to celebrate, people are often seen enjoying their time with friends and family on Christmas Eve.
On the day of Christmas Eve, let us get to know more about the day itself and how it is perceived across different countries, cultures, and regions.
- Jewish scholars from the 17th century called Christmas Eve by the name of NittelNacht.
- Chinese refer to the Christmas Eve as the “peaceful night” where they exchange apples with each other. The word apple in Chinese rhymes with the word for peace and hence exchange of apples to symbolically represent a peaceful time with family and loved ones.
- For Inuits, the day of Christmas Eve marks the start of a fresh new year. They refer to it by the name Quviasukvik.
- There was an unofficial Christmas truce during the First World War, in the years 1914 and 1915 between the troops of Germany and Britain. At this time, both the troops decorated their trenches and sang carols in their own languages. They also met on the No man’s land to exchange small gifts during this time. While the truce was not welcomed by the higher-ups, it was still followed through by the soldiers, who also took it as an opportunity to bury their soldiers.
- Astronauts onboard the Apollo 8, read from the Book of Genesis which was broadcasted live on television on the 24th of December in 1968. They read this while Apollo 8 was orbiting around the moon. The astronauts were Bill Anders, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell.
- It was on 24th December 1818 when the first time the carol “Silent Night” was sung in Austria’s Church of St. Nikolaus.
- According to scientists, for Santa Claus or Father Christmas to deliver gifts to everyone in the world, he would need to visit nearly 800+ homes every second to complete the mission. And it would require him to travel at about 650 miles for every second. This is literally 0.0002 seconds at every home. And there is of course the time to be included where he needs to climb down the chimney.
- As per tradition, brandy and mince pies are left for Santa Claus and a carrot for his reindeer, when he is delivering gifts. This is a practice followed by children earlier to thank Santa.
- While in many countries, the gifts are opened on Christmas day, the countries like Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Austria, exchange, and opening of presents happen on Christmas Eve.
- In Italy, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a seven-course meal of seafood and is known by the name “Feast of the Seven Fishes”.
- Children leave their shoes near the fireplace in France for it is believed that Santa Claus will fill up their shoes with presents on Christmas Eve.
- The UK does not have a public holiday on Christmas Eve and it is a day when people usually spend time shopping for Christmas or decorating for Christmas.
- While initially the midnight mass commemorating the birth of Jesus was held at exactly midnight, it is not the case anymore. The mass is conducted anywhere between evening and midnight in many places now.
- The tradition to hang stockings started with the gift received by three girls on Christmas Eve from Saint Nicholas. It is believed that Saint Nicholas threw bags of gold coins down the chimney after the girls went to sleep which landed into their stockings left for drying at the fireplace. Children continue to this day to hang their stockings in remembrance of this event.
- There is a tale of an old belief in the UK which says that the bread you bake on Christmas Eve will not get moldy. But as with any superstitions, this has no basis and so you should not believe in it.
- There was a tradition followed earlier of reciting old and scary ghost stories on Christmas Eve. However the same seems to have been wiped out in recent times.
- People of Sweden, most of them actually, watch cartoons featuring Donald Duck on Christmas Eve. We do not know how and why this tradition is followed but it has been in existence since the 1960s.
- People of Norway can be seen hiding their brooms on Christmas Eve as it is believed that witches and wizards will steal the brooms on Christmas Eve and wreak mischief all over town.
History of Christmas Eve:
Christmas Eve does not have a specific start date, to begin with. As for history, we can say that Christmas Eve has the same line of history as that of Christmas itself, the birth of Jesus Christ. We can probably say that Christmas Eve has been in celebration ever since we started celebrating Christmas, which has been attributed to the fourth century. Celebrating the eve of major festivals has been a habit across the continents and probably the same can be applied to Christmas Eve as well.
The celebrations have been underway for many centuries and across many parts of the world. In fact for a major part, the day of Christmas itself was celebrated on both days instead of a single day, as we do now. There is also a hint to the belief from ancient Jews who believed that the new day begins at 6 in the evening rather than at midnight or in the morning. This could be also the reason why the day is celebrated with equal fervor as the next day of Christmas.