Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is a time to cling to childhood. For our generation, life is often in flux. We take short contracts, internships, postgraduate degrees and years abroad. Life is a wonderful adventure full of opportunities and changes, but it leaves little time to build traditions and routines. The traditions we do have stem from our childhood and so many of them, for so many of us, have already been left behind.

We all think we know the “right” way to do Christmas. Every family has their traditions, their Christmas ritual that takes them from Christmas Eve to St. Stephen’s Day in the same, comforting way every year. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that this could change. Yet we are growing up, people are getting married, starting families and traditions of their own, moving away and, sadly, passing away.

Especially now, I cling harder to the elements of my youth that are still stable – Christmas Eve sandwiches and Jesus Christ Superstar in our Christmas jammies. I’m not sure where it all started with JC Superstar (as we have come to call it in our over-familiarity) but our family has three copies in rotation and we watch one every year.

This year we watched the “’70s Jesus”. The 70s version is shot in the desert and features a racially diverse cast, scaffolding in place of a set and, according to Ross, the best Jesus. I’m more of a Glenn Carter fan, myself. If 70s Jesus is so great, then why do they leave him on the cross when they drive off in their funky 70s bus, Ross? This year’s highlight was a new joke from my dad while watching the apostles eat unrisen bread at the last supper.

Jesus: Lads, what’s the difference between me and this bread? …I’ll tell you in three days 😉


I used to visit my friend Alannah on Christmas Eve, her parents serve mulled wine and nibbles for the neighbors, that was part of my Christmas Eve routine. Alannah lives in Australia now. It would be weird to just show up at her parents’ house.

My friends and I used to meet up on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast and a walk, to make sure we were tired enough to sleep that night – if we weren’t asleep, Santa might not come. This was a tradition from our teens to our early twenties. Still, as more and more people moved abroad or out of the village or started working jobs that made us work Christmas Eve, this tradition fizzled, too.

I mean, we’re all grown-up adult grown-ups who can definitely sleep through the night on Christmas Eve. We’re tired out from all that adulthood.

Christmas Day tends to be similar in all households – food, family, food, gifts and food, but all families have their own Christmas Eve ritual, from the ordinary, such as Christmas pajamas, to the obscure, such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash biblical musical.

Christmas jammies might be one of the strangest yet most important Irish Family Christmas Traditions. It’s just not Christmas if you’re wearing pajamas you’ve worn before. At least, I assume that’s not just us? Christmas jammies, they’re a thing, right? Anyway, even at 26, I insist on new pajamas for Christmas, which my mam (FRANta Claus as she’s known this time of year) has to buy for me, my sister and my brother. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t but we always cut the tags off on Christmas Eve.

This won’t always be the case. Our family will change, it might grow or shrink, people might leave and babies might be born and yeah, eventually, I’ll have to buy my own Christmas jammies. But not just yet. For this year, we were able to keep our traditions and next year I hope it will be the same.

Because next year we’ll be watching the 2000 version of Jesus Christ Superstar and Glenn Carter will slay Gethsemane and I’ll be like IN YOUR FACE, ROSS!

Merry Christmas.



One thought on “Christmas Eve Traditions

  1. Loved this, made me all teary! I’ll be home next year and you and I can drink mulled wine and pretend we’re sophisticated even though the bits of fruit are sticking in between our teeth… ❤

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