Christmas celebrations in the denominations of Western Christianity have long begun on the evening of December 24, due in part to the Christian liturgical day starting at sunset. Here are some Christmas Eve fun facts from The Encyclopedia of Trivia
The practice of celebrating the evening before Christmas Day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening, based on the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis: "And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day ."
Legend has it Martin Luther was the first person to put candles on a Christmas tree. The story goes that on Christmas Eve, 1538, the founder of the Protestant church was gazing at the stars twinkling through the branches of the fir trees as he mediated on the incarnation. He was so inspired by the sight that when he arrived home he set up a tree and decorated it with candles.
On Christmas Eve 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman gazed beyond the barren moonscape at the beauty and color of the earth rising. As they saw from a distance the separations of day and night and of land and water described in Genesis 1, they were inspired to read from the Bible the account of God's creation of the earth during a Christmas Eve television broadcast. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever.
In Japan, Christmas Eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. People don't spend Christmas with family (most people in Japan are Buddhist), but instead Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents.
On Christmas Eve at 3 p.m., it's a tradition for the people of Sweden to sit down to watch From All Of Us To All Of You
, the 1958 Walt Disney Christmas special. The show is a collection of classic Disney cartoons introduced by Jiminy Cricket and nearly half the Swedes watch it.