Traditionally, Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas. It is a significant time because it is believed that Jesus may have actually been born on this date (or early in the morning on Christmas Day) during the night. It is also important because angels appeared during this time to notify the world that Jesus was going to be born. He was promised as being the new king or saviour of the people. This message was not taken kindly by the establishment of the time – namely King Herod who attempted to track down Jesus and have him killed in order to maintain his rule. It is believed that many babies were slaughtered during this time in order to appease King Herod’s demand that Jesus be tracked down and killed. This is actually one sombre aspect of the birth of Jesus. However, it should not detract from the festivities that are held during the period.
Christmas Eve has particular traditional connotations depending on where you live in the world. Masses are held during this time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and remind Christians of the importance of the holiday. The masses are instrumental in reminding Christians why Christmas is an important event and to help ease the commerciality of what the holiday has become in modern times. It is a way to bring Christians the message of what Christmas symbolises which is the birth of their saviour, the son of God. Some countries actually trade gifts on Christmas Eve (in the evening) as this is the time that Jesus was thought to be born. Christmas Day itself is set aside as a day to visit family members and feast on a wide variety of foods. The specific foods also change from country to country. A common food eaten is ham and/or turkey.
In this regard, Christmas is actually celebrated over the course of two days. If you are someone who celebrates Christmas you no doubt start to feel excited on Christmas Even in anticipation of the celebrations to be held the next day. Christmas Eve is significant for people who leave their shopping to the last minute and retailers are all too happy to cash in on this. Many major retailers remain open until midnight in order to allow last minute shoppers the opportunity to finish their Christmas shopping. Whether or not this is because the retailers actually want to help people finish their shopping or just realise it is an extra way to make money is debatable.