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, to 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 liturgical starting at sunset, inherited from Jewish tradition, and based on the Book of Genesis’s Story of Creation, saying the first day starts at the evening and ends during the morning. It is also believed that Jesus was born during midnight. Many historical conceptions on many ancient traditions that contributed to the development of Eve celebrations which persisted in the early Christian calendar.
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’s become even more popular within the last century thanks to a beloved icon: Santa Clause. With the appearance of the jolly man in red, people began preparations such as hanging stockings and leaving out cookies, milk, and sometimes carrots for reindeer.
In fact, for Christian culture, Christmas Eve marks the culmination of the Advent period, beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is the reason why many churches have services that night. From the 12th to the 15 century, due to the “Holy Inquisition,” Christian traditions were made mandatory. In the 16 Century, the church was influenced by the “Winter Solstice” celebrations, and began Christmas preparations the night prior.
Christmas Eve took on another meaning other than Santa Claus and Christianity, but 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 time to get together and enjoy special and traditional activities, from Europe, to North and Latin America, to Asia.
Christmas Eve timeline
World's largest Santa
A 525 feet long sculpture of Santa on ice was the centerpiece at the city of Harbon ice festival in China, unveiled on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve with the Moon
Astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission became the first humans to orbit the Moon, it was broadcasted live during Christmas Eve
The Christmas truce
In World War I, as a manifestation of the Christmas spirit, French, German and British troops laid down their arms, and soldiers initiated a Holiday ceasefire sharing cigarettes and whiskey.
Christmas Eve anthem
The carol "Silent Night" was performed for the first time in public in the Australian village of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve in 1818 at a midnight mass in the Saint Nicholas church.
Christmas Eve FAQs
What do you do on Christmas Eve?
On Christmas Eve, many families get together to enjoy a big family dinner. When children are asleep, parents and grandparents will sneakily put presents under the tree from Santa.
What time is Christmas Eve?
Originally, Christmas Eve was celebrated during the night before Christmas, however over time, it’s become a full day affair.
Why is it called Christmas Eve?
The word “eve” means the day or period of time before an occasion or event. So Christmas Eve literally means “the day before Christmas.”
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!
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.
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.
5 MIND-BLOWING FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS EVE
The fastest delivery man
Scientists calculated that Santa has to travel at 650 miles a second to do all his work on Christmas Eve.
It used to be a popular tradition in the past century, to sit around and tell scary ghost stories on Christmas Eve.
The Christ candle
On Christmas Eve, the Christ candle in the center of the Advent wreath gets traditionally lit in many church services.
The Nativity scene
It is a tradition of Christians to recreate the nativity scene, including live dramatizations.
Presents come earlier
In some countries, like Australia, Germany, Portland, and some places in Latin America, the presents are exchanged and opened on Christmas Eve rather than at Christmas.
Why We Love Christmas Eve
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.
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.
An opportunity to give love
Beyond any commercial and material reason, Christmas Eve is the perfect night to give and receive love. Loving gifts to give include: your company, your support, food for homeless animals, donations to organizations and churches, and more.
Christmas Eve dates