Catholics celebrate Christmas eve: Traditions and customs

Католики празднуют Рождественский сочельник: Традиции и обычаи

Catholics around the world today celebrate Christmas eve.

On this day families decorate Christmas tree and set the manger with figurines of the baby Jesus and the virgin Mary, and straw, which for Catholics is one of the main symbols of Christmas. The manger in the old days was called the trough for cattle. It was in a manger, zastelil it with straw, and Mary laid her newborn son Jesus.

Those who did not confess, go to Church, which usually open early in the morning. Preparing a festive dinner on Christmas eve, traditionally consisting of meatless dishes. Vigil mass of the Nativity (Ad Missam in Vigilia) usually begins at midnight. According to tradition, during the mass the priest puts in a Christmas Nativity scene figurine of the Christ child.

Gala dinner at Christmas eve must necessarily involve the consecrated unleavened bread and Christmas wafers. Dish with wafers is placed in the center of the table. Before dinner, the head of the family reads aloud a passage from the gospel of Luke, which tells of the birth of Jesus Christ. After that, all participants take the wafer and share them with each other, wishing peace and goodness. After this, the dinner of Christmas eve.

It is customary to leave for Christmas dinner Unallocated space. If someone comes into the house on Christmas eve, it will be accepted with cordiality. This custom is the memory of loved ones and dear people, who may not at this day to celebrate the holiday together with family. Unallocated space also symbolizes the deceased family member or all the dead relatives. For them, gone forever, on the table according to custom, is a special device that put a bit of each dish and a piece of wafer.

On the first day of Christmas festive food is served — meat dishes: pork, Turkey, goose, ham. Abundance on the festive table is considered the key to prosperity in the new year. As for festive meals, each nation has their own: in the US it’s Turkey with cranberry sauce, in Lithuania – kutya, fish and other lean food.

In Denmark roast goose or duck with apples, cooked rice pudding and sweet rice porridge with raisins and cinnamon. In Austria and Hungary the opposite: don’t cook the bird, insisting that no one can fly good luck and happiness. In Scandinavia on the eve of slaughter pigs, make smoked meat and brewed malt beverage.

On this day, children comes Santa Claus, which is the prototype of Saint Nicholas. He brings the kids gifts and puts them under the tree or in a specially prepared socks. On Christmas eve on the coffee table in the living room, near a big tree, you must put a glass of milk and a plate of almond biscuits. According to legends, it is believed to be favorite food of Santa’s, and you have to feed after a long journey. At night when the kids are in bed, parents open the window, bite the cookie and drink the milk. In the morning the first child runs to the table and looking, was Santa or no. If a cookie half-eaten, and milk drunk – can safely run and watch the under the tree gifts, and special socks with sweets and fruits.

The faithful Catholics Christmas is revered even more than Easter.

A traditional Christmas decoration in Western countries is the mistletoe. All who meet under the mistletoe must kiss. This plant was revered in pagan times as a sign sent from heaven. Other common decorations associated with Christmas are Holly and ivy – both are associated with pagan holidays.

Carols in Catholic families and sing for the Christmas table, and the next day after the onset of the holiday. The entertainers (not only children, but adults) go from house to house, singing songs with good wishes and happiness.

However, the Catholic Church refers to the caroling is not very good, considering this ritual is an echo of paganism. Therefore, the noisy fun, carnivals and festivities in Catholic countries is not as popular as in the countries of the Orthodox.

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