In short

Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve) is the evening of December 24 which precedes Christmas and which is often the subject of a long meal, generally family, sometimes accompanied by other celebrations such as midnight mass.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, between Christianity and Judaism

Christmas celebrations in the denominations of the christianity Western countries have long begun on Christmas Eve, in part because of the liturgical day Christian beginning at sunset, a practice inherited from Jewish tradition and based on the story of Creation in the book from Genesis: “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day. » Many churches still ring their bells and hold evening prayers; for example, the Nordic Lutheran churches.

Since tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based on Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth. The idea of Jesus' birth at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is called Heilige Nacht (Holy Night) in German, Nochebuena (Good Night) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

Many other diverse traditions and cultural experiences are also associated with Christmas Eve around the world, including gathering of family and friends, singing Christmas carols, lighting and enjoying Christmas lights, trees and other decorations, wrapping, exchanging and opening gifts, and general preparation for Christmas Day.

Legendary Christmas gift-bearing figures including Santa Claus, Christkind and Saint Nicholas are also often said to set out on their annual journey to deliver gifts to children around the world on Christmas Eve, although until Protestant introduction of Christkind in the 16th century. century in Europe, it was said that these characters instead offered gifts on the eve of the feast of Saint Nicholas (December 6).

A nativity scene can be erected indoors or outdoors and is made up of figurines representing the baby Jesus resting in a manger, Mary and Joseph. Other characters in the scene may include angels, shepherds and various animals. Figures can be made of any material and arranged in a stable or cave. The Magi may also appear and are sometimes only placed on stage the week after Christmas to explain their travel time to Bethlehem. While most home nativity scenes are wrapped at Christmas or shortly after, nativity scenes in churches generally remain on display until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

There are many traditions around the world. Christmas rites are often mixed with recent local traditions or from ancient paganism. Likewise, dates may vary depending on religious movements and Churches.

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Christmas Eve