What Are Your Christmas Eve Traditions?

    We talk a lot about traditions during the holidays because even if your family is like mine, which doesn’t have many traditions, you probably still have some holiday rituals. Today, I want to talk with you girls about my favorite traditions of the year: Christmas Eve traditions!

    My husband and I generally spend a quiet Christmas Day at home. My mom usually stops by for a visit and I make a nice dinner for us, but most years our Christmas Day is nice and relaxing. The reason is that the part of my family that’s really into Christmas celebrates the night before. So I’m going to tell you about three of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions—past, present and future.

    Past: Staying up late. I’ve always had a huge imagination, and even as an adult, I still lie in bed on Christmas Eve and listen for sleigh bells and reindeer hooves…that’s just how I roll. This started when I was a little girl; one of my favorite poems is “The Night Before Christmas.” I have two younger sisters, Amanda and Christina; I’m four years older than Amanda and six years older than Christina. When we were little, we fought all the time. We fought the day before Christmas and we’d fight on Christmas Day, but we didn’t fight during the night on Christmas Eve (no, it wasn’t because we were sleeping).

    We’d go to bed like normal on Christmas Eve. Then, after my parents turned out all the lights and went to bed, I’d sneak out of my room and across the hall into the room my sisters shared. We’d stay up all night talking about life, what we hoped to get for Christmas, sometimes I’d read to them, etc.

    Now that we’re all adults and spread across the country, this is the Christmas Eve tradition that I miss the most.

    Present: Dinner and presents. I’m Portuguese on my dad’s side (English on my mom’s). Once my parents divorced, we started doing things a little differently during the holidays. One of those things was spending Christmas Eve with my dad’s family.

    So on Christmas Eve, my husband and I drive over to my grandmother’s house. She and my aunts make Portuguese sausage and beans for dinner with French bread, and we all sit down for dinner together.

    While it’s hard for all of the family on my dad’s side to get together, we still have a pretty good crowd on Christmas Eve with my three aunts, uncles, some cousins, my dad and my grandmother. They always have “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing on TV, presents stacked up near the piano, and candy and cookies on the table. After dinner, my cousins, who are musicians, play some Christmas music for everyone and then we open presents. Since we’re so busy during the year, this is often the only time that we get to see most of these family members, so it’s definitely a Christmas Eve tradition that we treasure.

    Future: Staying up late. I know it won’t be quite the same, but since the tradition I miss the most is the one where my sisters and I would stay up late and hang out on Christmas Eve, I’ve asked my husband if we could try something similar this year.

    So for Christmas Eve this year, we’re planning to stay up as late as we can, read the story of Christ’s birth together, watch movies, drink hot chocolate, have a fire in our fireplace and listen for sleigh bells until we can’t stay awake any longer. Maybe we’ll Skype my sisters just for fun.

    The Christmas Eve traditions I love the most are always the ones that involve my family. I think those are traditions that please God, too.

    And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors!’” —Luke 2:13-14

    Girls, what are your Christmas Eve traditions? Share them in the comments!

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit for more on her work. You can also connect with her on and


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