Christmas Eve is celebrated in a variety of different ways around the world, depending upon which country you are in…
In Ethiopia Christmas Eve is called Ganna and is actually celebrated on January 6th when a procession of Christian priests carrying colourfully decorated umbrellas parade through the town streets. The parade ends at the local churches where mass is held.
The Philippines has the distinction of being the country with the world’s longest Christmas celebrations, which often begin as early as September 1st. The nine-day masses begin on December 16th in their traditional Spanish, ending on Christmas Eve, which is traditionally declared a non-working day along with December 28th (Niños Inocentes), December 30th (known as Rizal Day after the execution of Jose Rizal in 1896), December 31st (New Years Day) and Epiphany (the first Sunday of January).
For those in the Czech Republic and Slovakia Christmas Eve is known as Generous Day, or Štědrý den in their own langauge, and is the day when gifts are given in the evening, said to have been delivered to the houses by Ježíšek (Baby Jesus). December 24th is traditionally a time of fasting for both the adults and the children, with feasting reserved for 25th and 26th of December.
The tradition of gift giving on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day in Germany first began in the 16th Century, during the reformation, when Martin Luther suggested that the emphasis of Christmas should be on Christ’s birth. The gifts are delivered by Weihnachtsmann (the Christmas Man) and Christmas trees are put up and decorated first thing in the morning.
However, in my house, Christmas Eve is traditionally celebrated by opening big tins of Quality Streets and Celebrations, and sitting down to watch Santa Claus: The Movie and Morecambe & Wise specials with a mince pie and a glass of something festive!