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Christmas Eve

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noun
the evening or the day preceding Christmas.
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Origin of Christmas Eve

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

MORE ABOUT CHRISTMAS EVE

What is Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve is the day or the evening before Christmas, the Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity.

Most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, making Christmas Eve December 24. But Christmas is celebrated on January 7 in the Orthodox Church due to the use of a different calendar, making Christmas Eve fall on January 6.

The term Christmas Day is sometimes used to refer to Christmas to distinguish it from Christmas Eve, as in Are you arriving on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Christmas is also widely observed in secular (nonreligious) ways. Popular activities include the decoration of a Christmas tree and the exchange of gifts. Most people exchange gifts on Christmas morning, but some exchange them or at least a few on Christmas Eve.

By those who celebrate Christmas, Christmas Eve is often seen as a festive time that’s associated with a sense of wonder and anticipation. Many families have special traditions for Christmas Eve.

Christians often attend church on Christmas Eve, sometimes at midnight of Christmas Day, or later on Christmas morning.

In secular terms, Santa Claus is said to deliver gifts to children’s homes on Christmas Eve.

Example: I love Christmas Eve even more than Christmas—the sense of anticipation is the best part!

Where does Christmas Eve come from?

The first records of the term Christmas Eve in English come from the 1300s. The word eve refers to the day or, especially, the night before a holiday. It is used in the same way in New Year’s Eve. (The word Halloween comes from an abbreviation of Allhallows Even, in which even means the same thing as eve—it is the day before Allhallows, or All Saints Day).

In religious terms, the Christmas season is sometimes considered to extend from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Day on January 6. This period is sometimes called Christmastide, though this word can also be used in a more general way to refer to the period from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day. The word Christmastime is often used more generally to refer to the entire month of December.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for Christmas Eve?

  • the night before Christmas
  • the day before Christmas

What are some words that share a root or word element with Christmas Eve

What are some words that often get used in discussing Christmas Eve?

How is Christmas Eve used in real life?

Christmas Eve is often when many of the main Christmas festivities begin. Many people have special traditions for Christmas Eve.

 

Try using Christmas Eve!

True or False? 

All Christians observe Christmas Eve on December 24.

How to use Christmas Eve in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

noun
the evening or the whole day before Christmas Day
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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