With declining liturgical tradition comes a day of anticipation.
I like Christmas Eve. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth, a topic on which I have written before. Traditionally Christmas Eve so named because the liturgical day started at sunset; the evening of Christmas happened before the day of Christmas. But that original meaning has faded over the years, and now Christmas Eve is often more a celebration of anticipating, of waiting for the other celebration.
I like the idea of a celebration of anticipation, of patiently waiting. Patience is a virtue, and I often think it one of the most powerful virtues there is. They Might Be Giants observed “Patience is a virtue best shared with a spouse.” St. James wrote “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” The scriptures repeat some version of the admonition to “wait on the lord” several dozen times. In many households, Christmas Eve is a celebration of patience. The presents are wrapped and under the tree, the daily work and struggles are over, and there is time (or at least we hope there is time) to reflect and await the blessed day to come.
No one set out to make a day of anticipation, a day of patience. I suppose many people were upset as the opening of the day of Christ became instead part of the day before Him. But the current version of Christmas Eve is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful of the whole year.