Christmas Eve is the name given to the evening or the entire day before Christmas
. As it leads to the momentous event of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is a special occasion for Christians all over the world.
The Essence of Christmas Eve
Christmas is generally celebrated on the 25th of December but in countries like Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Ethiopia, the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Moldova, it falls on the 6th of January. The date of Christmas Eve therefore varies with the country. But whether it is December 24 or January 7, for Christians, Christmas Eve is reserved for spending quality time with their family, and to commune with God. Midnight masses are held at churches to honor the birth of Christ. Christmas Eve is therefore known as "Heilige Nacht"
("Holy Night") in German, and "Nochebuena"
("the Good Night") in Spanish. The celebration of Christmas Eve varies from place to place
. Read on to find out how it is done in some select countries.
Around the World in Christmas Eve
After the midnight mass, the French enjoy a sumptuous dinner called réveillon
with their family and sing carols. One of the traditional dishes of the réveillon is turkey with chestnuts.
For the Germans, Christmas Eve is more important than the following day. There’s candle mass at the church at 10 pm, and the family returns to a simple meal, after which presents are opened. Potato salad
is one of the most popular ingredients of Christmas Eve dinner in Germany.
Like other countries, Christians attend church services and come back home to a family dinner. But a few Brits opt to spend the night with friends at pubs. Children leave out milk and mince pie for Father Christmas, while parents get busy wrapping presents.
Nigerians make grand traditional feasts on Christmas Eve, which mostly consist of fufu
(pounded yam) and various types of meat stew.
Poles fast in the morning of Christmas Eve, and have the traditional Wigilia meal
in the evening, after the first star appears. Before the meal begins, they greet each other by sharing a piece of blessed Christmas wafer known as Oplatki. They later open presents and then attend midnight mass.
To Russians, Christmas is a solemn religious affair. Christmas Eve is marked by long services at church. The traditional dinner served on this day is referred to as "Holy Supper"
, and it consists of 12 dishes, with each dish representing one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ.
In Latin America, the midnight of Christmas Eve is when the biggest celebration occurs, and Colombia is no exception. It is the last day of the Novena, an act of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church. As soon as the Novena is over, Colombians break out into celebration, feasting, opening their presents and watching fireworks, and the parties continue well into dawn.
America is a country where people of diverse races live. Naturally, there is no one way of celebrating the holiday. However, for most Americans, Christmas Eve is the evening for wrapping presents and hanging Christmas stockings on the mantelpiece of the fireplace. As in the UK, children leave food for Santa Claus – milk and a plate of cookies.