Christmas Eve

The day before Christmas is a public holiday in several countries

Christmas Eve

Who is off on Christmas Eve 2016?
Bulgaria Bulgaria Czech Republic Czech Republic
Denmark Denmark El Salvador El Salvador
Estonia Estonia Finland Finland
Iceland Iceland Lithuania Lithuania
Macau Macau Philippines Philippines
Slovakia Slovakia Sweden Sweden
Venezuela Venezuela

Christmas Eve is always celebrated on 24 December. If Christmas Day falls on a weekend, then this holiday may be observed on a different day.

Countries and regions which officially have Christmas Eve as a public holiday are shown on the right.

Even if it is not a public holiday, be aware that many businesses in Europe will give employees the afternoon or the whole day as a holiday.

As Christmas is traditionally a time to spend with families, a lot of people may leave work early to travel home or visit relatives, so this is not a good day to arrange business meetings.

Christmas Eve marks the culmination of the Advent period before Christmas that started on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Many churches will mark the end of Advent with midnight church services.

In Latin America, Christmas Eve marks the end of a nine day period before Christmas, called 'Las Posandas' which represents the none months of labour for the Virgin Mary before she gave birth to Jesus.

Christmas Eve Traditions


On the night of Christmas Eve, children around the world will leave food and drink for whoever will come to their house and bring them presents. Who this is, depends on what part of the world you live. It might be Santa Claus or Father Christmas; but in Switzerland it will be the Christchild who delivers the presents. In Denmark, it's the Christmas elf; in Sweden, it'll be a small man and in Finland, it'll be the Christmas goat!


Christmas Eve around the world

Latin America

In Latin America, Christmas Eve is known as 'Nochebuena' or 'Navidad' and is the time when families have their traditional Christmas Dinner, often after attending a late mass called 'Misa de Gallo'.

national and public holidays in Denmark Denmark

All shops close at noon on Christmas Eve. In the afternoon, the Christmas dinner is prepared and some families may go to church to hear the Christmas Gospel. In the evening, Christmas dinner is served with duck, turkey or goose being popular meats.

After the meal is finished, the Christmas tree is lit. It is tradition for families to walk around the tree singing Christmas carols. Finally it's time to unwrap the presents, before coffee and sweets then bedtime.

national and public holidays in Hungary Hungary

People buy (or make) presents for their relatives and friends in the preceding couple of weeks (so this period is the absolute boom of the year for most stores). Public transport stops operating at about 4 p.m.

national and public holidays in Japan Japan

In Japan, Christmas traditions arrived with Portuguese and Spanish missionaries in the 16th century, but the celebrations have been more popular in recent times as a result of Japan's increasing internationalisation. It is not seen as a particularly significant religious holiday but as a chance for families to spend time together as part of the year end activities.

One custom that has been become popular is eating strawberry shortcake and fried chicken on Christmas Eve. It has been said that the tradition of buying fried chicken may in part be a result of the similarity between a certain Colonel and Father Christmas - who is charmingly known as 'Uncle Chimney' in Japan.

national and public holidays in Lebanon Lebanon

On Christmas Eve, Christian Lebanese attend midnight mass. As a consequence of the colonial past, Santa Claus is known by his French name, Papa Noël. Gifts are either dropped off at church or Papa Noël makes a personal appearance at the home.

national and public holidays in Luxembourg Luxembourg

Christmas Eve is not a national holiday in Luxembourg, however under a special working agreement, insurance companies have the day as a holiday and banks close in the afternoon.

national and public holidays in Norway Norway

In Norway, a custom is to hide all household brooms on Christmas Eve. It was once believed that witches came out on Christmas Eve and stole the brooms to ride the skies.

national and public holidays in Slovakia Slovakia

Read about Christmas Eve in Slovakia

national and public holidays in Switzerland Switzerland

Good children get oranges, apples and nuts. Naughty children are supposedly carried away in the saint's big sack and told to clean up after his donkey. (Samichlaus, the Swiss Santa Claus, does not have reindeer.) On December 24 the Christkind (Christ Child) comes, bringing the Christmas tree and gifts. Candies and sweet cakes are brightly wrapped and placed under the tree.

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