Go out on Christmas Eve?

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'Twas the night before Christmas: how people spend December 24

By Rebecca Sims

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

That may be true for the UK, but other countries use the penultimate day for their celebrations. On Christmas Eve, we spend time tracking Santa himself, eating mince pies and binging on our favourite classics from Elf to It’s A Wonderful Life. But we can't stay up too late with Father Christmas on his way. Whilst British children wait expectantly for Santa, Christmas comes early for some around the globe.

Christmas Eve traditions

Many Catholic Canadians - particularly those in Quebec - tend to open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve after attending Midnight Mass. They follow the prezzies by devouring a traditional meal which consists of pie of meat, potatoes and onions known as tourtire.

Russian traditions focus more on food. From the morning to the evening on Christmas Eve, some people fast - and they can eat when the stars come out. Friends and family then gather together to enjoy their traditional Russian dish kutya, which consists of a mix of grains honey and poppy seeds with not a single piece of meat.

Following Midnight Mass in Germany, Christmas is celebrated with potato salad and their famous sausages - a bit different than our turkey and all the trimmings.

Sinterklaas, based on Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, is celebrated on his name day, December 6. Christmas Day tends to be a quieter affair in the Netherlands - they spend it by attending church and gathering for a family meal.

On Christmas Eve, Dutch kids believe that Santa Claus, who is also called 'Christmas man' or 'Kerstman', comes from Lapland to deliver presents. Christmas Day is known as 'Eerste Kerstdag' (first Christmas day) and the day after Christmas is called 'Tweede Kerstdag' (second Christmas day), according to Why Christmas.

Happiest day?

Andy Williams got it spot on when he sang 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year'. Indeed, Christmas Day is when people are at their happiest. Hedonometer.org examines Twitter and chronicles levels of happiness from its users. Each level of happiness is scaled between one (sad) to nine (happy).

Their study found that Christmas Day is the peak level of happiness for users and has been every year for the last decade. Last year, Twitter users had an average happiness level of 6.25 on Christmas Day. It has, however, decreased by 1.73 per cent since 2009.

According to statistics from Dreams, one in three adults wake up between 4am and 7am on Christmas morning - and one in five will get less than five hours sleep. To get a good night's sleep ready for the big day, Dreams suggests avoiding caffeine, which has a half-life of between six and eight hours, and staying busy to tire yourself out.

Traditionally, Christmas Day is a time spent with family. Research from HomeAway Inc. found that four in five people will still spend Christmas with family. Around half of people (51 per cent) are looking forward to spending quality time with them over the holidays.

Whether you are eating tourtire in Canada or katya in Russia, or waiting for Santa Claus or Kerstman to drop off presents, Christmas Eve is spent celebrating and feasting across many cultures. Will you be joining in the fun on December 24?

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