We take inspiration from countries that celebrate it properly.
23 December 2019| Last updated on 14 January 2020
All Credits: PA
Find out how other countries celebrate the joyous occasion!
Whether you’re driving home for Christmas, rushing through those last niggly bits at work, or doing a final mad dash around the shops for final stocking fillers (or, erm, ALL the presents you haven’t gotten around to buying yet), Christmas Eve can end up being a bit of a nothing day.
It doesn’t need to be that way though, and in many countries around the world, it’s the main event, not the second-best prelude to the festive pinnacle.
So, if you fancy relishing Christmas Eve – rather than spending it mired in wrapping paper – why not adopt one of these traditions from across the globe?
Bring your tree indoors
Your tree might be up already, but in countries including Germany, Slovakia and Serbia, Christmas Eve is the day you bring your tree in and spend time making a fuss of it with lights and baubles.
Feast after dark
Once Midnight Mass is done, it is tradition in many countries to exchange presents (yes, a day early), feast afterwards, and eat late into the night. In Poland, many families indulge in a multi-course vigil supper known as wigilia; in Lithuania people host Kūčios; and in Iceland lamb is the star at Hangikjot.
Have a torch procession
To ‘keep witches at bay’ it is tradition in Agnone in Italy to host Carnevale Agnonese – where people take to the streets bearing homemade wooden torches aloft.
Head to the sauna
As we live in a warm Middle Eastern country, we don't have the excuse of snow - but that’s no reason not to do as the Finns, who are big fans of spending the afternoon of Christmas Eve in the sauna. You’ll be all aglow and relaxed ahead of the big day.
Hide almonds in porridge
Another Scandinavian tradition is to start the day with a big bowl of rice porridge, studded with almonds. You’re said to be guaranteed good luck for the new year if you unearth one of the nuts.
Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan, and is not widely celebrated, however, December 24 has taken on its own special significance in recent years. A trend has sprung up for people to tuck into Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve, and we’re totally onboard with it.