Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.
The tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve derives partly from Christan liturgy starting at sunset, which is inherited from Jewish tradition and based on the Book of Genesis’s Story of Creation, saying the first day starts in the evening and ends in the morning. It is also believed that Jesus, or Jesus of Nazareth, was born at midnight in the region of Palestine. Many historical conceptions on ancient traditions contributed to the development of eve celebrations, which persisted in the early Christian calendar.
Christmas Eve marks the end of the Advent season, the period of preparation for Christmas, which begins on November 30, or November 15 in the East. It was on this night that the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks outside Bethlehem saw the bright star in the sky that signaled the birth of Jesus Christ. This is why many churches have services beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. From the 12th to the 15th century, due to the Holy Inquisition, Christian traditions were made mandatory. During the 16th century, the church was influenced by the Winter Solstice celebrations and began Christmas preparations the night prior.
Since Christmas Eve is not usually an official U.S federal holiday, most people have to work. However, it is a partial day off or a full day off in some states. Many workplaces hold Christmas parties or celebrations, so there is a celebratory air to the day. People who work in the retail or catering sectors often have to work very hard to meet consumer demands on December 24.
Many people in the United States decorate their homes and driveways with seasonal decorations, although some do this much earlier, starting just after Thanksgiving Day in late November. The centerpiece of the decorations is often a Christmas tree decorated with fairy lights, tinsel, angels, stars, and other seasonal ornaments. Outdoor light sculptures are also becoming increasingly popular. These are many light bulbs or LEDs in the form of trees, sleighs, reindeer, Santa Claus, snowmen, and other seasonal figures. Light sculptures may be placed on driveways, roofs, or in gardens.
In the evening, often just before bedtime, many families, particularly those with children, will hang up stockings on the fireplace or the end of their bed. These Christmas stockings are often red with white fluffy trim, although they may be of any design and are often much bigger than the socks that they represent. Children hope that Santa Claus, a mythical figure thought to represent an ancient European saint, will enter their home via the chimney and fill their stockings with gifts, sweets, and oranges.
According to nationaltoday.com; en.wikipedia.org; timeanddate.com. Source of photo: internet