Christmas Eve is in the evening of December 24, the day before Christmas Day. It is not a holiday, so most people have to work. Schools are normally closed. However, as it is the day before the holidays, many workplaces hold Christmas parties. Stores are usually open, but grocery stores may close early. Some people use Christmas Eve for last-minute Christmas shopping.
The United States is a melting pot of cultures, therefore many traditions and customs originate from other countries.
Families make final preparations for Christmas Day itself: preparing food, finishing off gift-wrapping, traveling, decorating their homes with lights, trees, etc.
Children, in anticipation of Santa Claus’ visit down the chimney, put out cookies and milk for him, and carrots or other treats for the reindeer. Some children also hang up stockings on the fireplace, or other suitable places, so that Santa can leave their gifts inside.
Churches hold candlelight or midnight masses, where the Nativity is played out and carols are sung. This happens at midnight, as it is the time when Christmas Eve transitions to Christmas Day, and because traditionally, Jesus is thought to have been born at night.
Some people follow fasting or abstinence rites or customs leading up to Christmas Day. E.g., Italian-Americans celebrate The Feast of the Seven Fishes, a grand meal of seafood, as meat is abstained from until Christmas Day.
Other cultures, especially of European origin, may have their main celebrations, including exchanging gifts and their main Christmas dinner, on Christmas Eve itself. People might eat their meal after they have come back from going to church at midnight. Some Scandinavian peoples eat their meal and then go to church.
Christmas Eve - Next years
Thursday, 24 December 2020
Friday, 24 December 2021
Saturday, 24 December 2022