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!
When is Christmas Eve 2023?
Christmas Eve is on December 24 and marks the culmination of the Advent period before Christmas that starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Many churches mark the end of Advent with midnight church services. During modern times, it is popularly celebrated on the night before Christmas Day.
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 timeline
The Christmas carol 'Silent Night' is performed for the first time in public in the Austrian village of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve at a midnight mass in the Saint Nicholas Church.
In World War I, as a manifestation of the Christmas spirit, French, German, and British troops lay down their arms, and soldiers initiate a ceasefire, sharing cigarettes and whiskey.
Astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission become the first humans to orbit the Moon, it is broadcasted live on Christmas Eve.
The world's largest Santa, measuring 21.08 m (69.16 ft.) tall, 9.18 m (30.12 ft.) wide and 12.62 m (41.4 ft.) deep, goes on display in the Municipality of Águeda in Portugal.
What are Dirty Santa gifts?
Dirty Santa gifts are presents given following a specific theme given by hosts of a Dirty Santa themed party. The gifts are usually hilarious and most times down-right ridiculous and they can comprise any items the giver chooses. Dirty Santa gifts are wrapped but they remain entirely anonymous without the ‘to’ or ‘from’ label. Because everyone comes with a gift to give, everyone is considered a ‘Santa’ and the word ‘dirty’ comes from the idea of ‘playing dirty’ because participants steal desirable gifts from each other.
What are some examples of Dirty Santa gift ideas?
Because of their intended gag factor Dirty Santa gift ideas need to include items that are sure to bring on the laughs — the more outrageous the better. Consider buying a coffee mug shaped like a toilet, a tissue roll with a funny message, fish-shaped flip-flops, animal paw socks, a pimple popper toy, a joke book, a beer belly fanny pack among other ideas. Get creative and let your inner Dirty Santa drive you.
What needs to be factored in before getting Dirty Santa gifts for adults?
When shopping for Dirty Santa gifts for adults, you need to keep two things in mind — the theme provided and whether or not this will be an adults’ only party. While what is considered appropriate can vary from person to person, some Dirty Santa gifts for adults can swing to the extreme side of being raunchy and are not child friendly at all. Once you have factored in these two considerations, feel free to go crazy on your shopping spree.