many families hold many different traditions on christmas eve. my family has always gotten together on christmas eve at gig's house. we usually open one small present and save the rest for christmas morning. i didn't get to go home for christmas eve last year or this year. we have spent the last few years with tim's family, eating, talking and enjoying each other's company. i guess when you have a baby it makes it much harder to travel, especially when he has an early bedtime. when you begin a family of your own, you begin to make small changes in your old traditions to start traditions that are unique to your household.
tomorrow morning we will get up early, let drew open his presents, head to bob and kathy's again for more present opening, then be on our way to beattyville. i love that tim has a great family close so we can share the holidays with them. i am a little nostalgic for home though, i don't think that will ever change. so many years of waking up on christmas morning with a full house makes it really hard to adjust to new traditions. i hope we can make drew's memories as sweet as all those tim and i both have from our christmas holidays. i'll post pictures tomorrow of all our christmas eve/day gatherings.
in the meantime, here are some christmas eve facts:
first, we have the santa tracker: http://www.noradsanta.org/en/home.html
next, we have our facts about the celebrations in some churches. i had to put this one on here because it made me remember a time when i went to midnight mass with mamaw. i had gone the year before by myself because i was asked to sing in a choir for the service. this was not at my church but at the episcopal church. (we have very similar beliefs/traditions and this is where my best friend went to church.) anyway, a few things are different in their ceremonies....namely the end of many ceremonies they say peace to one another. having never witnessed this, i thought everyone was saying "pleased to meet you" therefore when all the attendees turned to me to shake my hand, i said "pleased to meet you" to everyone. no one even told me what i was doing wrong until i shook the hand of my high school librarian (who was such a good friend to sarah and i--definitely our confidante) and she laughed hysterically at me. she informed me of my mistake and told me i was supposed to say "peace be with you". yes, it makes much more sense but i had no idea....i giggle everytime this happens in a service now and i always think of that midnight mass. :)
The Christmas season liturgically begins on Christmas Eve, and is preceded by a four-week anticipatory and penitential period called Advent, which can include acts of almsgiving, fasting, and service while the season unfolds. The Mass of the Vigil is said in the late afternoon or early evening hours of December 25th. The Christmastide season continues through until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday following the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
Many Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate a midnight Mass (Eucharist) which begins sometime before midnight on Christmas Day; this ceremony, which is held in churches throughout the world, marks the beginning of Christmas Day. A popular joke is to ask what time Midnight Mass starts, but in recent years some churches have scheduled their "Midnight" Mass as early as 7 p.m. In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa del Gallo ("Rooster's Mass"). In the Philippines, this custom lasts for nine days, starting on December 16 and continuing daily up to December 24, during which Filipinos attend dawn masses, usually starting at around 4:00-5:00 a.m.
Lutheran parishes often carry on Christmas Eve traditions typical for Germany and Scandinavia. "Krippenspiele" (nativity plays), special festive music for organ, vocal and brass choirs and candlelight services make Christmas Eve one of the highlights in the Lutheran Church calendar. Christmas Vespers are popular in the early evening, and midnight services are also widespread in regions which are predominately Lutheran. The old Lutheran tradition of a Christmas Vigil in the early morning hours of the 25th of December (Christmette) can still be found in some regions of Germany. In eastern and middle Germany many congregations still continue the tradition of "Quempas singing": separate groups dispersed in various parts of the church sing verses of the song "He whom Shepherds once came Praising" (Quem pastores) responsively.
Methodists celebrate the evening in different ways. Some, in the early evening, come to their church to celebrate Holy Communion with their families. The mood is very solemn, and often the only visible light is the Advent Wreath, and the candles upon the Lord's Table. Others celebrate the evening with services of light, which often include singing the song "Silent Night" as a variety of candles (including personal candles) are lit. Other churches have late evening services at 11 pm, so that the church can celebate Christmas Day together with the ringing of bells at 12 am. Others offer Christmas Day services as well. Each church is welcome to celebrate Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day in their own special way.
The Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve has established itself as one of the signs that Christmas has begun in the United Kingdom. It is broadcast to many parts of the world via the BBC World Service.
Other churches also hold a candlelight service, which is also typically held earlier in the evening; these often feature dramatizations of the Nativity. Similar worship services are held in many Protestant churches on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.