Christmas Eve, also known as the Vigil of Christmas or simply “Christmas Evening”. It is perceived as the culmination of the Advent season. It is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the widely celebrated annual festival.
It occurs on December 24 in the Western Christian Church, and is considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and the Western world, where it is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Many people around the world celebrate Christmas Eve in different ways.
Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day and is associated with celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth, although his actual birth date has been disputed among many scholars. However, many Christmas traditions that are around today have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals. These include the importance of candles and decorations made from evergreen bushes and trees, symbolizing everlasting light and life.
One reason celebrations occur on Christmas Eve is that the traditional Christian liturgical day starts at sunset, an inheritance from Jewish tradition. This structure for the liturgical day is followed for all feast days throughout the year in the Eastern rite and is retained for Christmas in the West, where the liturgical day ordinarily begins at midnight. Many churches still ring their church bells and hold prayers in the evening before holidays; for example, the Nordic Lutheran churches.