Christmas Eve, which is the day before Christmas Day, is celebrated in many countries worldwide. It is a Christian observance that falls on December 24 in the Gregorian calendar.
Many people around the world celebrate Christmas Eve in different ways. It is observed in many countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Workers in some countries get a day off or half-day off to prepare for Christmas Day, including last-minute shopping for presents, decorations or food. In some countries Christmas Eve is celebrated with large family meals featuring traditional Christmas dishes. In some cultures, presents are exchanged and opened on the night of Christmas Eve. Many homes have their Christmas trees lit up, mistletoes hung, and other Christmas decorations, such as holly and ivy, at this time of the year.
Some people organize groups of singers who go Christmas caroling from door to door, or sing Christmas carols in public venues. It is also a time for children in many countries around the world to hang their Christmas stockings (or pillow cases), hoping for a present to arrive from Santa Claus on Christmas Day, which is December 25 in the Gregorian calendar. Children in France set out their shoes near a fireplace on Christmas Eve because they believe that Father Christmas (Santa Claus), also known as le Père Noël (in French), will arrive before dawn and fill them with toys, nuts and sweets.
Many churches hold special services during Christmas Eve, including midnight services. These services include special choirs and sermons to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Many churches also display a crèche or miniature Nativity scene. Christmas celebrations in different countries combine the country’s cultural traditions, beliefs and superstitions with more contemporary customs, such as Santa Claus and Christmas trees.
Christmas Eve is a public holiday in countries such as the Czech Republic and Estonia. Some banks and businesses are closed in some countries, including Austria and Germany, on Christmas Eve. Many people in countries such as Brazil have the afternoon off work on Christmas Eve.
Some stores are often open late to accommodate for last-minute Christmas shopping in some cities around the world. Schools and educational institutions are usually closed on Christmas Eve as it falls as part of either the winter (northern hemisphere) or summer (southern hemisphere) vacation period. Airports, bus stations and train stations may be busy as many people travel to visit their families around this time of the year.