What else would be better than to celebrate the evening before the birth of someone who is the basis for one of the world’s greatest religions, Christianity? Yet celebrated by the entire world.
What is Christmas Eve?
Xmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. … Since tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth.
Some facts about Christmas Eve
- Christmas Eve marks the culmination of the Advent period before Christmas that started on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve, celebrated on December 24th.
- If Christmas Day falls on a weekend, then this holiday may be observed on a different day.
- Countries and regions which officially have Christmas Eve as a public holiday are shown on the right.
- Even if it is not a public holiday, be aware that many businesses in Europe will give employees the afternoon or the whole day as a holiday. For instance in Portugal, while Christmas Eve is not a national holiday, most companies give their employees the day or afternoon off to prepare and to be with their families, and many businesses will close earlier than normal.
As Christmas is traditionally a time to spend with families, a lot of people may leave work early to travel home or visit relatives, so this is definitely not a good day to arrange business meetings.
History of Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve marks the culmination of the Advent period before Christmas that started on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Many churches will mark the end of Advent with midnight church services.
In Latin America, Christmas Eve marks the end of a nine-day period before Christmas, called ‘Las Posandas’ which represents the none months of labour for the Virgin Mary before she gave birth to Jesus.
Christmas Eve Traditions
On the night of Christmas Eve, children around the world will leave food and drink for whoever will come to their house and bring them presents. Who this is, depends on what part of the world you live. It might be Santa Claus or Father Christmas; but in Switzerland, it will be the Christchild who delivers the presents. In Denmark, it’s the Christmas elf; in Sweden, it’ll be a small man and in Finland, it’ll be the Christmas goat!
In Latvia, the custom is that you can open the presents under the Christmas Tree after the Christmas Eve dinner, with a slight twist – before you take your gift, you’ll have to recite a small poem.
A unique tradition of Christmas decoration in Ireland is a large white candle which is placed at the entrance of the house or in a window. This candle is
lit by the youngest child on Christmas Eve. This is a symbol to welcome the Holy Family and the candle can only be extinguished by a girl or a woman named Mary.
The World Encyclopedia of Christmas by Gerry Bowler
A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth.