Why is the day before Christmas, Christmas Eve, celebrated?

Why is the day before Christmas, Christmas Eve, celebrated?
Christmas Eve is a big deal for religious reasons, such as the midnight mass, and also for retail reasons. 1867 was the first year that Macy's department store in New York City remained open until midnight on Christmas Eve.

A HowStuffWorks reader was also kind enough to point out the following: "All Jewish holidays start at sundown the evening before (not at calendar midnight). Our holidays start with ceremony the evening before: rituals, candle-lighting, whatever... at sundown and they last until the following sundown, and then they're over."



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