Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year. Every day leading up to Christmas is filled with excitement and happy moments celebrating the season. I love the holiday season for its ability to bring people together and warm everyone’s hearts, even when people are apart. Christmas Eve is celebrated with holiday traditions and often religious activities, and one thing I have noticed is the time spent on Christmas Eve is always more enjoyable than that spent on Christmas day.
In historical terms, Christmas was not always celebrated solely on Dec. 25th, but throughout a whole season of celebration. The tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve comes from the belief that Jesus was born at midnight, though the Bible never confirms this. It is also a Christian tradition to go to mass on Christmas Eve. Even though the Christmas Eve that I have come to know and love doesn’t include any religious aspects, I think that learning about the connections and the reasons it is special to others makes it even more special to me.
Every family celebrates Christmas Eve differently and traditions vary all around the world. In Japan, it has become a tradition for families to go to the nearest KFC for dinner. In Denmark, a tree is placed in the center of the room, and families dance and sing around it. In Ireland, a tall red candle is left in the window overnight. One American tradition that I love is leaving milk and cookies out overnight for Santa. My family has made it a tradition of our own to open one present on Christmas Eve to quell the excitement and anticipation of the next day. We drink hot chocolate and read all the classic Christmas stories. I never know when it’s the right time to start watching Christmas movies so I usually end up watching all my favorites on Christmas Eve. The day feels like a collection of all the best moments of the Christmas season, without the pressure and expectations of actual Christmas day.
My problem with Christmas day is it never feels like it lives up to my expectations. I’ve found that I am not the only one who shares this sentiment. I usually spend the day texting my friends with a shared feeling of sadness that Christmas day has arrived. It is not that I do not appreciate the gifts and the hard work my family has put into making the day great, but it feels more like an abrupt end to a happy season. It is generally seen as strange to continue to celebrate after Christmas, so usually on Christmas morning, I open my presents and then wait for the day to end. I have to face the truth that next Christmas is not for an entire year and by then I’ll be an entirely different person. It feels similar to the strange sadness that students share on the last day of school. It is a happy opening to summer, but a sad end to the time spent together.
Christmas Eve is the time I have to not worry about the end of the fun. The anticipation of Christmas builds and is mixed with the fun of the season, all accumulating into the best celebration of Christmas that could be had. Though it might be hard to fall asleep from the excitement, I usually spend the night thinking about how grateful I am for the time I got to spend with friends and family and how thankful for the traditions, the new experiences, the sweets, the movies, and the music I am. To me, it feels like the peak of the season and the best time to reflect on the experiences I’ve had.