Did You Know? Countdown to Christmas 2009 (12/24)

dyk-christmas09

Did You Know?
Facts, Figures &
Folklore about Christmas

Dec 24 : Christmas Eve

Did you know that the night before Christmas has as many unique traditions as it does people who celebrate it?

Throughout Europe and in many last-minute American homes, too, families gather to “deck the halls” and set up their Christmas tree. There is the tradition of lighting bayberry candles on Christmas Eve and reciting the verse: “Bayberry candles burned to the socket, puts luck in the home, food in the larder, and gold in the pocket.” Midnight Mass is also part of many Roman Catholics and Anglicans Christmas Eve celebration.

And for many families, Christmas Eve also marks the late-night arrival of Santa Claus. Children leave out milk and cookies before they go to bed, for Santa and his reindeer to enjoy. Many countries throughout the world open presents on Christmas Eve. While in the US it is more common to open gifts on Christmas morning.

Did you know that the Italian tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes is a celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus?

In his honor, many Roman Catholics do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, enjoying instead a feast of seven seafood and shellfish dishes. The number seven signifies the number of days in which G-d created the universe. The Feast of Seven Fishes tradition originated in southern Italy and is still practiced there today, as well as by many Italian American families.

Christmas is the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, and is a central part of the winter holiday season. In Christianity the holiday marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days. And although traditionally a Christian holiday, Christmas is widely celebrated worldwide by many non-Christians.

Popular holiday customs include the playing of seasonal music, gift-giving, the exchange of greeting cards, observing special church celebrations and masses. The display of holiday decorations are common; including Christmas trees, indoor and outdoor lights, garlands, mistletoe, and nativity scenes.

Santa Claus, a popular mythological figure, is also an important part of the celebration and is associated with the bringing of gifts for children.

Join us for a new Did You Know holiday fact each day as we countdown to Christmas. This year Christmas Eve will be celebrated Thursday December 24, Christmas Friday December 25.

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