What is Christmas Eve: History, Meaning and Celebrations
Christmas Eve, which is the day before Christmas Day is celebrated in many countries worldwide. It is a Christian observance that falls on December 24 in the Gregorian calendar, as noted by Timeanddate.
When is Christmas Eve?
Christmas Eve is 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, according to Officeholidays.
Meaning of "Christmas Eve"
For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: "An evening and a morning were the first day"?
Christmas means "Christ-mass." Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning, as regarded by Christianity.
Symbols of Christmas Eve
Since pagan times, it was customary to decorate with greenery on festivals, especially with holly, ivy, and mistletoe. After some debate, the church authorities permitted it to be done on Christian festivals, at least from the early seventh century in England. Holly and ivy were associated with good and evil, or male and female, and so were often combined. Mistletoe has pagan associations. For example, the druids of Gaul regarded mistletoe growing on oak trees as sent from heaven.
Images of Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, snowmen, reindeer, and candy canes are seen in cards, posters, signs and other printed or marketing material associated with the Christmas celebrations. Images of baby Jesus, the Christmas star, and other symbols associated with the religious meaning of Christmas are also seen during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. - Timeanddate reported.
Christmas Eve Celebrations
The celebration of Christmas begins on the evening of December 24. The importance of Christmas Eve in terms of popular customs is greater than that of the Day itself. On this day, the Christmas-tree is manifested in its glory; then, the Yule log is solemnly lighted in many lands; then often the most distinctive Christmas meal takes place, Christmas-day expressed.
The Midnight masses was originally celebrated by the Pope towards midnight in the chapel of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome, before a small congregation. The celebration of mass at midnight is based on the ancient belief that Jesus was born precisely on the stroke of twelve. Solemn and impressive with the happy sound of pealing bells, with light sparkling everywhere and with hymns of joy are some of the inevitable aspect of Midnight Mass.
The Christmas tree is the greatest joy for children. The tradition of deco- rating a Christmas tree include decorations that are made of pieces of straw strung together on a thread into intricate geometrical figures, colored egg shells and pastry were used to make birds, horses, squirrels, lambs, moons, suns, stars, flowers and other figurines. Christmas trees are also decorated with apples, fir or pine cones, nuts and paper cuttings.
Christmas Eve is the day for family reunions. Many Christians traditionally celebrate a Midnight mass at midnight on Christmas Eve, marking the beginning of Christmas Day. Other churches hold Candlelight service which is typically held earlier in the evening. It is also seen as the night when Santa Claus or his international variants, make their rounds giving gifts to good children.
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