When is "Christmas Eve"?
Christmas Eve, December 24, is the day before Christmas Day, the celebrated birthday of Jesus Christ.
What type of holiday is this?
Both a •National Holiday,
In the Western Christian Churches, the Christmas season liturgically begins on Christmas Eve, and is preceded by a four-week fast called Advent. The Mass of the Vigil is said in the late afternoon or early evening hours of December 24. The Christmastide season continues through until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday following the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
Many Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate a midnight Mass (Eucharist) which begins sometime before midnight on Christmas Day; this ceremony, which is held in churches throughout the world, marks the beginning of Christmas Day. A popular joke is to ask what time Midnight Mass starts, but in recent years some churches have scheduled their "Midnight" Mass as early as 7 p.m. In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa del Gallo ("Rooster's Mass"). In the Philippines, this custom lasts for nine days, starting on December 16 and continuing daily up to December 24, during which Filipinos attend dawn masses, usually starting at around 4:00-5:00 a.m.
Lutheran parishes often carry on Christmas Eve traditions typical for Germany and Scandinavia. "Krippenspiele" (nativity plays), special festive music for organ, vocal and brass choirs and candlelight services make Christmas Eve one of the highlights in the Lutheran Church calendar. Christmas Vespers are popular in the early evening, and midnight services are also widespread in regions which are predominately Lutheran. The old Lutheran tradition of a Christmas Vigil in the early morning hours of the 25th of December (Christmette) can still be found in some regions of Germany. In eastern and middle Germany many congregations still continue the tradition of "Quempas singing": separate groups dispersed in various parts of the church sing verses of the song "He whom Shepherds once came Praising" (Quem pastores) responsively.
Other churches also hold a candlelight service, which is also typically held earlier in the evening; these often feature dramatizations of the Nativity. Similar worship services are held in many Protestant churches on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
In the early evening, many Methodists come to their church to celebrate Holy Communion with their families. The mood is very solemn, and often the only visible light is the Advent Wreath, and the candles upon the Lord's Table.
The Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve has established itself as one of the signs that Christmas has begun in the United Kingdom.
Christmas Eve Supper
How can I Celebrate this holiday?
- Blog with us about it! - We have a blog called "Everyday is a Holiday" so visit our pages and talk with us about the holidays.
- Send Free E-Greeting! - If your ready to get together with your friends don't forget to invite them with these fun Internet Invitations.
Photo at top
Hundreds of candles brought to a Christian Cross at the Malmi Cemetery in Helsinki, Finland on the Christmas Eve. It is a tradition to bring candles to graves on the Christmas Eve and All Saints' Day to remember the dead.
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