Christmas Eve takes place on December 24 and is probably one of the best nights of the year! Christmas has the power to reunite families and friends, warm up our hearts, and remind us that we have so many things to be thankful for. So put on your cozy PJs, light up your fireplace, call your loved ones, and top off your hot cocoa with some fluffy marshmallows!
HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS EVE
The tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve derives partly from Christan liturgy starting at sunset, which is inherited from Jewish tradition and based on the Book of Genesis’s Story of Creation, saying the first day starts in the evening and ends in the morning. It is also believed that Jesus, or Jesus of Nazareth, was born at midnight in the region of Palestine. Many historical conceptions on ancient traditions contributed to the development of eve celebrations, which persisted in the early Christian calendar.
Christmas Eve marks the end of the Advent season, the period of preparation for Christmas, which begins on November 30, or November 15 in the East. It was on this night that the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks outside Bethlehem saw the bright star in the sky that signaled the birth of Jesus Christ. This is why many churches have services beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. From the 12th to the 15th century, due to the Holy Inquisition, Christian traditions were made mandatory. During the 16th century, the church was influenced by the Winter Solstice celebrations and began Christmas preparations the night prior.
In many parts of Europe, people believe that at midnight on Christmas Eve, animals briefly possess the power of speech. It might have been the traditional association of the ox and the donkey in the Nativity scene that gave rise to such superstitions, but the concept of talking animals is probably pagan in origin. A closely related belief, widespread in England and Europe, is that cattle rise in their stalls at midnight on Christmas Eve, or kneel to worship the Christ child.
Despite its Christian significance, there are a number of pagan and supernatural beliefs connected with Christmas Eve. In Scandinavian countries, it is believed that the dead revisit their former homes on Christmas Eve. People make sure that their parlors are tidy and that a good fire is burning before they go to bed. They often light candles, set the table, and leave out plenty of food for their ghostly visitors. They also make sure that the seats of their chairs have been dusted. When they get up in the morning, they wipe the chairs again with a clean white towel. If they find any dirt on the seat, it means that a relative fresh from the grave sat there during the night.
Celebrating Christmas as a holiday became popular in the 19th century. Christmas Eve remains an important part of Christian culture and signifies the birth of Jesus. It has become even more popular within the last century thanks to a beloved icon: Santa Claus. The idea of the jolly man in red gave rise to more traditions such as hanging stockings and leaving out cookies, milk, and sometimes carrots for his reindeer.
Apart from Santa Claus and Christianity, Christmas Eve took on another significance — it also became a day made for spending time with family and loved ones over dinner, decorating, gift wrapping, and Christmas-themed movies. The holiday unites families and friends, allowing them to get together and enjoy special and traditional activities, from Europe, North- and Latin America, to Asia.
CHRISTMAS EVE ACTIVITIES
No matter your obligations for the night, where you are, or who you are spending it with, take the time to have dinner with the people close to you. Prepare some food or order it, have some desserts, and enjoy the conversation and the company!
2.Secret Santa / secret friend
Many countries share the tradition of giving and receiving gifts, and though it’s usually saved for Christmas Day, Secret Santas are great for Christmas Eve. Organize a Secret Santa with your friends and spread the Christmas spirit.
3.Keep and create traditions
From cooking your favorite childhood Christmas dish and making eggnog to hosting an annual movie night with your friends, the Christmas season is the perfect time to start a new tradition.
WHY WE LOVE CHRISTMAS EVE
A. Light even in the darkest times
For Christians, Christmas is the reminder that God loves humanity so much that he sent his Son to save them and forgive their sins. So even in the darkest time, and just as in World War I, Christmas Eve is the night that lights up the world.
B. Reunion night
Even people who aren’t religious celebrate Christmas and take the time to go home to spend time with family and see friends they haven’t seen all year.
C. An opportunity to give love
Beyond any commercial and material reason, Christmas Eve is the perfect night to give and receive love. Some loving and kind gifts include your company, your support, food for homeless animals, donations to organizations and churches, and more.
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