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Welsh Christmas Eve Traditions

Updated on October 5, 2014
My fireplace on Christmas Eve, all ready for Santa Claus
My fireplace on Christmas Eve, all ready for Santa Claus

Following Generations of Tradition

All over the world, people celebrate Christmas in their own traditional ways. Throughout the holiday period, people carry out time honoured practices and routines, passed down through the family line.

Here in Wales, Christmas Eve is almost as special as Christmas Day itself and just as exciting. As the hussle and bussle of shopping and gift wrapping comes to an end, we settle down to remember the true meaning of Christmas and to enjoy the magic of Santa and all it brings.

Read about some of the traditions that my Welsh family follow on Christmas Eve each year.

(All photographs are from my own collections, unless otherwise credited)

St Paul's Church
St Paul's Church

Celebrating the Birth of Jesus

Children's Christmas Eve Carol Service and Midnight Mass

Just as the shops close their doors on Christmas Eve in Wales, the doors of the Churches open. Around 4pm, families with young children gather in our Church for the Christmas Eve Carol Service.

The service is great fun and an excellent opportunity to take a step back and remember why we celebrate Christmas each year. Our Vicar leads the congregation through an impromptu recollection of the Christmas Story, with randomly chosen children taking part and playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, Angels, Shepherds and Wise Men. Everyone joins in at strategic points in the story with choruses of well know Christmas Carols.

Later that night, the older children and adults return to the Church to celebrate Midnight Mass. This is a more serious service, and one that I often find is very emotional, as people contemplate the year that has gone before them and remember those who are no longer with us. Once again, carols are sung and everyone joins in prayer for the Holy Communion. At around midnight, the Vicar bestows his peace and blessings upon the congregation and everyone turns to their neighbor to wish them peace and goodwill for Christmas.

The service always comes to an end with a rendition of O Come All ye Faithful, sung in its entirety with the last verse reserved especially for this night. For me, singing this carol means that Christmas has truly arrived.

Photo Credit: Clwyd Family History Society

My Grandson's First Christmas Stockings
My Grandson's First Christmas Stockings

Hanging Our Christmas Stockings

Even though there are no longer any small children in our house, this is one of the traditions that will carry on for years to come.

Usually, the decorative Christmas stockings are already hanging on the fireplace, having been placed there since early December when the decorations were brought out. One for each of my daughters, plus one for my eldest grandson, who lived with us for a while. In addition to this,

Santa sacks are placed on the sofas and chairs, just in case Santa has brought a few extras that won't fit in the hanging stockings. Some people leave their stockings on their beds, which is how the tradition started, but in our house, we like to open our presents all together, so the living room fireplace is the focus for our Christmas Stocking hanging traditions.

Cute Christmas Stockings on Amazon.com

Our treats for Santa
Our treats for Santa

Treats For Santa and Rudolph

Mince pies, sherry (or hot chocolate) and tangerines!

Santa and Rudolf have so much to do on Christmas Eve they are bound to get hungry along the way.

So its become traditional to leave a light snack for them, to help them along their journey.

There are various suggestions of what you can leave for Santa and his trustee steed to enjoy, but here are some of our choices....

For Santa ...

  • A glass of sherry
  • A cup of hot chocolate - can't be too careful, with that sleigh to drive
  • Mince pie
  • Chocolate brownie
  • Christmas cake slice

For Rudolf...

  • Dish of water
  • Carrot
  • Tangerine

Your Santa and Rudolph Treats

Let's find out who else follows this time honoured tradition. Select your answer below and then leave a comment to tell us what YOU leave out for Santa and Rudolf on Christmas Eve...

Do you leave Santa and Rudolph treats on Christmas Eve?

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A Bedtime Story for The Night Before Christmas

Since I was small, its been a family tradition to gather on the sofa just before bedtime on Christmas Eve and listen to Mother read the story of the Night Before Christmas. I'm not sure whether it helps to calm down the excited children, as bedtime stories are intended, or whether it just adds to their inability to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. But either way, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem in 1822 and it was originally entitled "A Visit from St Nicholas". "T'was The Night Before Christmas" has now become a worldwide tradition to read the poem on Christmas Eve.

Read the full version of the poem on Carols.com here

Or Click on the YouTube link below to hear it.

Photo Credit:How Stuff Works Website

T'was the Night Before Christmas on Amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas on YouTube - Listen to it here....

What traditions do you follow in your household on Christmas Eve? Are any the same as ours in Wales? What is your favorite Christmas Eve tradition?

Christmas Eve Traditions Guestbook - Thanks for stopping by, please say hello here....

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      All our family used to gather together at my sisters. We didn't grow up with Santa or any fairy tale stories, but celebrate Jesus' birth. I love listening to the Christmas carols like you, it seems to usher in the holiday.

    • Celticep profile image
      Author

      Celticep 5 years ago

      @siobhanryan: must be the Celtic connection ;) thanks for visit and blessings

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Blessed-much the same here in Ireland