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


    1. I really liked reading that!! My parents are divorced too, and every year I switch between spending Christmas with my mom or my dad. This year, I’m with my dad until Christmas eve (which is the day I drive back with him to see my mom). I don’t really have any traditions that I can remember because I was really little when they split up. But I do know that when I’m with my Dad on Christmas Day, we watch Modern Family and Friends Christmas episodes and open presents, and when I’m with my Mom, we go over to my grandparents house. This year with them, we’re decorating and baking cookies on the actual day, because I’m not with them at all over break until Christmas.

    2. I feel the same way as you about tradition (and imagination;) On Christmas Eve, my mom usually cooks a ton in preparation for the next day, so we get food at Cook Out (lol) and drive around looking at Christmas lights.

    3. In my family we all get together at one of my aunts house and have all kinds of foods, open up presents, (we pick names for who were going to buy for) and just have family time! My gramps reads us the night before christmas! When i come home this year I want to read the bible by the tree 🙂

    4. Nearly every Christmas Eve me & my family go to my friends house and we do things we’ve done since we were children so it feels like Christmas.
      Me and my friend always put footsteps outside or glitter on the floor so it looks like the elves have been already so our brothers & sisters get really excited for Santa to arrive & it’s the cutest thing ever to see their reaction.
      When we get home we sit on the sofa & our dad reads us ‘The Night before Christmas’ and we sometimes open one present before we go to bed. I’m so excited 🙂

      • I would love to attend a candle light service! My husband and I usually go look at neighborhood Christmas lights but He’s been sick so we missed that this year. Yum! Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite!!

    5. Girls! All of your traditions sound so fun!! Isn’t funny how if we really think about it, it isn’t always the presents that make Christmas so exciting, it’s the traditions and the time we get to spend with family and friends that we really get the most excited about? I love that!

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