The night preceding Christmas Day, that is the night between 24th and 25th of December is termed Christmas Eve. It is the occasion marking the birth of Jesus Christ and is thus celebrated throughout the world. Though this is an event predominantly significant to Christianity but even in many secular cultures and countries it is considered a national holiday. There are some customs related to the celebration of Xmas Eve.
Decorating a Christmas Tree
People decorate Christmas trees on 24th December, in fact it is considered unlucky to bring in the tree in the house before that day. Therefore, the evening preceding Christmas Eve is also a time for decorating the Christmas Tree. Though in some places the tree is set up or decorated some weeks before Christmas Day on Thanksgiving Day.
The midnight mass celebration is conducted on Christmas Eve. In Christian churches of the west . Christmas services held on evenings or late afternoons preceding Christmas Eve are considered a beginning to the celebration of the Christmas season. Churches all over the world celebrate midnight mass. Though the nature of the church services during midnight mass may vary slightly as per the various faiths within Christianity. The catholic churches hold a candle service during mass whereas protestant churches may conduct prayer services on the eve of Christmas. Some churches even organize nativity plays. A nativity play is a re-enactment or recreation of the story of Jesus Christ's birth.
Christmas Eve is also known by the term 'Good Night' in relation to the celebrations that go on during this evening right upto midnight. People the world over consider this a time to be spent with family and friends and celebrate with lots of music, dancing and food.
The meal on the Eve of Christmas varies in the menu and in the traditions associated with it. Though there are some basic items on the menu, but there are also different specialties prepared on Christmas in different parts of the world. Generally preparations of turkey, fish, chicken, salads and other varieties are prepared. It also includes Christmas cake and desserts in the form of Christmas puddings.
In many countries Christmas gifts are exchanged on this occasion, though this tradition differs in relation to gift givers and the time of giving or opening gifts. In many countries Santa Claus is believed to visit on the night of the Christmas to stuff the stockings hung near the fireplace with presents. Some people consider Baby Jesus as the one giving presents and that too weeks before the Eve. Though in some countries like US and UK gifts are opened on Christmas morning.
These are some of the aspects of Christmas Eve celebrations. No matter how varied the ways of celebrating, the reason remains the same and it always will. And all these traditions reinforce the reason everyone celebrates Christmas.