Read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
Tune in to one of the glorious services from King’s.
Contact loved ones you won’t be seeing today or tomorrow.
Track Santa online on NORAD.
Defrost food you’ll need tomorrow.
Set the Christmas table for tomorrow.
Consider using our Christmas Eve Preparations Guideline.
(Scroll down for the day in detail)
“The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992): starring Michael Caine as Scrooge. Of all the versions of Charles Dickens’s timeless ghost story “A Christmas Carol”, this is truly one for all the family. It is both funny and touching, with memorable songs, and has ghosts past and present – if not quite future – that won’t scare the kids. As Miss Piggy, playing Mrs. Cratchit, gets caught filling her face with chestnuts while preparing Christmas dinner, she declares to her suspicious daughter: “I wasn’t eating them, I was checking them. It’s a chef thing, dear.” Well, this film is a Muppet thing and on viewing you will understand why it has long had classic status. (Movie Magic: After being dragged through the woods by the Ghost of Christmas past, story narrators Gonzo and Rizzo land safely, slap bang in front of a cat. Rizzo sighs in relief on landing, saying: “Safe at last.” The cat meows behind him. Rizzo turns around, sees the cat, then turns back to the camera and shakes his head. And then he’s off. The cat in hot pursuit. These are the added moments that make Muppet movies so watchable.)
And because it’s Christmas Eve…
“Tom and Jerry’s The Night Before Christmas” (1941): A double act with iconic status serve up eight minutes and 47 seconds of pure, unadulterated Christmas mischief, mayhem, reconciliation and joy in the third Tom and Jerry animated short directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. (Movie Magic: Tom sends Jerry out into the snowy cold. But conscience can get the better of even the meanest cat on Christmas Eve and he shows that enemies can have a happy Christmas. It’s a few minutes of animated Christmas enchantment.)
And again, because it is Christmas Eve, might we dip into this fantastic film again (one we recommended for full viewing earlier in the countdown) if only for the last, incredibly festive scenes with Santa?
“The Polar Express” (2004): starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara and Nona Gaye.This computer-animated Robert Zemeckis film is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg. A young boy in Grand Rapids, Michigan is questioning his belief in Santa Claus. The Polar Express stops outside his house on Christmas Eve and takes him on a journey sure to test his level of denial. There are howling wolves and a curious ghostly figure amid the tension of the perilous journey. There are valuable lessons to be learned for each child on board – some as plain as the ticket in their hand. And then there’s the magic of Santa, his reindeer and his multitude of elves. As for the boy: a silver sleigh bell will decide his fate. Tom Hanks multi-tasks rather wonderfully. (Movie Magic: The Christmas Eve scene at the pole. A child’s Christmas dreams come true in a beautiful nutshell.)
“Silent Night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.”
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), Austrian priest & writer
“Silent Night” by Choir of King’s College, Cambridge;
“Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” by Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum;
“O Holy Night” by Bing Crosby.
Did you know…the twelve days of Christmas are rooted in the time it supposedly took the Magi to travel to see the infant Jesus? It was in the ninth century that King Alfred the Great made it law to observe Church feasts, including the winter celebrations. December 25th was declared a holiday, as were the days that followed…twelve in all. It was only in the next century, however, that “Christ’s Mass” on December 25th became Christmas and the country could embrace the twelve days of Christmas.
And did you know…the song “Walking in the Air”, such a Christmas Eve favourite, is sung in “The Snowman” animation by chorister Peter Auty and not Aled Jones? Welsh chorister Jones reached the top five in the UK charts with his version of the song, released three years after the film debuted. Auty was not credited on the original version, but received his due on the 20th anniversary release. Jones is the one, however, forever associated with the song and has, in recent years, annually narrated “The Snowman” story on Classic FM radio on Christmas Eve.
The Day in Detail:
Mrs. C says: We love the traditions of Christmas Eve and repeating them year on year. So there are few changes in our recommendations for viewing, listening and reading today…maybe just the odd tweak or two. But, of course, you may have favourites of your own to enjoy. Either way, let’s keep our traditions alive and pass them on through the generations.
Whatever the enchantment of Christmas Eve holds, be it last-minute wrapping, celebrating with family, taking in a church service or putting out sherry and mince pies for Father Christmas, we hope you can find just a few minutes of quiet time to read Clement C. Moore’s classic poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. It’s also known as “A Visit from St Nicholas” and was first published anonymously in 1823. The poem taps into the very heart and soul of Christmas Eve excitement and anticipation for children young and old.
Ed Elf: I love when you read it to me late on Christmas Eve. I like it so much I don’t even mind when you slur your words.
Mrs. C: Cheeky elf. His tradition is to use that joke every year. It’s a small sherry at most…maybe two. Another must for us on Christmas Eve is to tune in to one of the atmospheric and beautiful services from King’s College, Cambridge. Their famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is on BBC Radio4 at 3pm and Carols from King’s is shown later the same day on BBC2. Listen or watch, but please try not to miss. My mind wanders to dear family and friends as I’m listening, especially ones I won’t be seeing this Christmas. Making a call, sending a text, emailing or even Zooming those people today will show them they are in your thoughts.
On a practical level, don’t forget to defrost food you may need for the next couple of days – mince pies, desserts and the like. If you’ve gone for a frozen turkey, that should be defrosting by now. Check our Food & Drink page if you’re in a defrosting turkey panic. If you are cooking a turkey, it’s likely you’re hosting Christmas dinner. Setting the Christmas table today will save so much time tomorrow, assuming pets or children are not about to get their mitts on your perfect arrangement in the meantime.
Ed Elf: For kids of all ages, now is the time to follow the progress of Father Christmas as he makes his deliveries across the globe. Visit www.noradsanta.org and you can track Santa on your computer or tablet.
Mrs. C: You’ll also find these suggestions on our Christmas Eve Preparations page – something we introduced to concentrate several calendar ideas into one easy-to-view page. If you’ve not been able to follow our countdown properly for the last few days or more, you can at least play a bit of catch up with this separate to-do list. Ed Elf: It gave me a nudge in the right direction, that’s for sure.
Mrs. C: Well here it is, dear friends: Christmas Eve. Whatever you follow on this site or elsewhere, whatever the preparations, however busy or not you may be, try to remember it gets no more magical than this. Savour every last festive drop and allow it to course through your veins all year long.
Mrs. C & Ed Elf in unison: Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are!
So today’s the day to:
Read the classic poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and soak in every line.
Tune in to one of the wonderful services of carols and readings from King’s College, Cambridge – be it on radio or television.
Contact family and friends you won’t be seeing today or tomorrow to share festive greetings.
Defrost food you will need on the night of Christmas Eve or tomorrow for Christmas Day festivities.
Set the Christmas table if you are hosting Christmas dinner tomorrow.
Track Santa on NORAD – just to make sure he’s on course for your house.
Check out our Christmas Eve Preparations Guideline.