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Christmas Eve


Christmas Eve

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"The Christmas Eve" (1904-05), watercolor painting by the Swedish painter Carl Larsson (1853-1919)
"The Christmas Eve" (1904-05), watercolor painting by the Swedish painter Carl Larsson (1853-1919)

Christmas Eve, December 24, the day before Christmas Day, is treated to a greater or a lesser extent in most Christian societies as part of the Christmas festivities. Christmas Eve is the traditional day to set up the Christmas tree, but as the Christmas season has been extended several weeks back (to Thanksgiving in the United States), many trees will have been set up for weeks.

In nearly all countries, Christmas Eve is a shortened business day. For example, (when it falls on a weekday) most financial markets close by early afternoon, and nearly all retail and commercial businesses are closed by late afternoon - typically between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Christmas season liturgically begins on Christmas Eve. Unless it is a Sunday, the Mass of the Vigil is said in the late afternoon and evening hours of December 24. The Christmas season continues through until January 4, or if that be a Saturday, until January 5, when the Vigil of the Epiphany is celebrated.

Many Christians traditionally celebrate a midnight mass at midnight on Christmas Eve, which is held in churches throughout the world, marking the beginning of Christmas Day. Other churches hold a candlelight service which is typically held earlier in the evening. These often feature dramatizations of the Nativity. Large meals are common, often with turkey or ham as the main item. A traditional dish in Germany is roast carp. In Czech Republic and Slovakia it is a fish soup and breaded roasted carp with potato salad. In some parts of Eastern Europe such as Poland and Lithuania, a traditional meatless 12-dishes Christmas Eve Supper is served before opening gifts. A fish-based dinner is traditional in Italy.

When it is Christmas Eve or La Nochebuena, as it is known in Spain, there are two important traditions - attending Christmas mass and secondly, enjoying a meal with friends and family.There is a wide variety of typical foods one might find on plates across Spain on this particular night, and each region has its own distinct specialties.It is particularly common, however, to start the meal with a seafood dish such as prawns or salmon, followed by a bowl of hot, homemade soup. The main meal will commonly consist of roast lamb, or seafood, such as cod or shellfish. For dessert, there is quite a spread of delicacies, among them are turrón, a dessert made of honey, egg and almonds that is Arabic in origin

It is also seen as the night when Santa Claus or his international variants, make their rounds giving gifts to good children. In Czech Republic the Ježíšek (translated into English as 'Happy little Jesus') has no particular personification. Anyone has his/her own idea. In Italy presents are opened on the morning of Christmas Eve, while in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Portugal and Poland, Christmas presents are opened on that evening, and in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia mostly on the morning of Christmas Day. In Finland Joulupukki personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve. Latin American countries wait until 12:00 am to start opening presents. In most parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland Christmas presents are opened in the evening of December 24th ('Bescherung'). In Spain and Latin America gifts are opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day ("Día de Los Reyes"). In Iceland Christmas starts at 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Church bells ring at that time and people either sit down for holiday dinner at home or with closest family. After that they open gifts and spend the evening together. In many cultures, a festive dinner is traditionally served for the family and close friends in attendance. In Slavic countries, it is known as Wygilia, and being invited to attend a Wygilia dinner with a family is considered a high honor. Unless attendance is impossible or otherwise too impractical, or if the person has made other plans already, turning down such an invitation, or not showing up can be considered extremely rude.

In North America, there is a mixture of families opening gifts in the evening and, more commonly, on Christmas Day morning. In families where a divorce has occurred, children may spend one day with one part of the family, and the next with the other. In extended families where two branches of the family reside within a reasonable driving distance, many families may choose to spend Christmas Eve with the maternal side of the family and Christmas Day with the paternal side, or vice-versa. Most Christmas stories start or take place on this day.

In the Philippines, the sole predominantly Catholic Christian country in Asia, Christmas Eves are usually celebrated by attending the rooster's mass or Misa de Gallo. Misa de Gallo is the Holy Mass celebrated hours before the clock ticks 12 AM that signifies the arrival of December 25 Christmas Day. After going to mass, Filipino families usually hold a feast named Noche Buena to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. A great variety of food is eaten during this feast, an event that usually is done with great preparation. Foods being prepared include the famous Lechon, Quezo de Bola, Jamon, Roast Chicken (turkey did not gain much popularity in the Philippines), Barbecued meats, Pancit among many others. Despite the fact that some families are poor, they still find a way to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ through eating, family time and merry-making.

Declaration of Christmas Peace

Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 due to the Winter War. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City and former capital, at noon on Christmas Eve. It is broadcast in Finnish radio (since 1935) and television and nowadays also in some foreign countries.

The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's Ein` feste Burg ist unser Gott) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll:

"Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behaviour shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city."

Recently, there is also a declaration of Christmas peace for forest animals in many cities and municipalities, so there isn't hunting during Christmas.

See also

Home | Up | Black Friday | Boxing Day | Boxing Week | Chrismahanukwanzakah | Chrismukkah | Christmas Eve | Christmas Sunday | Distaff day | Epiphany | Handsel Monday | Hogmanay | HumanLight | Night of the Radishes | Posadas | Purification of the Virgin | Sol Invictus | St. Stephen's Day | Twelfth Night | Twelve Days of Christmas | Twelve Holy Days | Winterval

Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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