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Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas Day dinner - which is bigger in your house?

In my house, Christmas Day dinner is the big celebration. However, I have recently noticed that a lot of families focus on the Christmas Eve dinner? I'm not sure if this is more of a tradition for certain religions, but would be interested to find out which dinner is the more important focus for you? Or do you do it up big both days?

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  1. Christmas Eve is bigger for my family because we do The Feast of The Seven Fishes which is customary for many Italian American families.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Philly Ray

      +1 however since we are not near family anymore the fish part has been drastically cut back to accommodate our guests. We have been doing Christmas Eve with the neighbors for 20 years with some fish.

    2. BIG and you missed one,the 26th,San Stefano or Boxing Day,so it's three days in our family.

      1. Christmas Eve is the big meal for us: lots of seafood. Christmas Day is a lot more relaxed.

        1. Growing up, the week before Christmas was filled with visiting family and big dinners- a ham one night, a leg of lamb another, a beef tenderloin another, culminating in the full turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, my dad cooked a HUGE brunch- pecan waffles, omelets, fried chicken livers and gizzards(and sometimes fried bass or bluegill if anyone had gone fishing in the days prior), bacon- on and on and on. Sandiwches and leftovers for the rest of the day and several days after.

          1. Christmas.

            However, the distaff extended fambly does a soup supper on December 23rd that will blow your doors off. Everybody brings a soup/stew, and there are also breads, chips/dips and other snackables.

            1. Growing up, the day of. My dad usually bbq'd a tri-tip. Christmas Eve was more my favorite though, even as a kid, it was always salami (gallo hard), cheese (block jack and cheddar), crackers (ritz and club), and apples (granny smith). We usually went to church so this was an easy meal to put together. I remember gorging myself on salami and getting sick when I was 8. Somehow I haven't outgrown my love of cured meats ;)

              This year will be the first I'm spending with someone else's family (BFs) so I'll have to do my own salami cheese and cracker dinner soon.

              1. Whatever day my family can manage to get together - it may be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, December 23...we live far apart. Growing up, it was always Christmas Day. When it is just my husband and I, we celebrate Christmas on the 25th.

                1. Christmas Day Dinner (early evening) was bigger. Christmas Eve was filled with getting ready for Christmas, then going to church. Christmas Day was more relaxed, opening presents, and then people would start arriving in the afternoon and then the dinner (ham) was early evening. Christmas season always seemed to be a stressful time, but come Christmas Day things started to be more relaxed since all the preparations etc. were more or less finished.

                  1. Always Christmas day. I don't think we have ever made much of a big deal out of Christmas eve, that was the time we usually spent preparing the vegetables for cooking in the morning. My mother in law does host a small party with simple nibbles after the Christmas eve mass, but it certainly doesn't out do the next day.

                    1. Xmas Eve dinner is usually just me and my partner. Xmas Day dinner (although it's actually lunch) is a family gathering catered either by us or my partner's sister.

                      We make an effort for both meals, although Xmas Day is always very traditional with turkey forming the centrepiece of the meal. We do not have any religious faith and simply regard this time as a winter feast.

                      1. Christmas Day! ~~~ Christmas Eve is mostly laid back, relaxed, casual....Well Christmas Day is too, it's just when we serve/eat the "Big" meal.

                        1. We do very different events for each. When I was about 10 or 11, I was put in charge of doing a little buffet for Christmas Eve, as my grandparents were coming from Texas. Everyone thought I was so awesome that it became a tradition. It always involves my grenadine punch (they all insist on it), Swedish meatballs, and egg nog. The rest of it changes every year.

                          For Christmas dinner, it's more of a Thanksgiving-like affair. Turkey or ham, usually.

                          To me, Christmas Eve is much more important. I'm sure this is partially due to the fact that I'm in charge of it. But we have a lot more important, long-standing traditions in our family for Christmas Eve that just make it feel much more special than the post-present gluttony.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Kontxesi

                            Would love the recipe for the Grenadine punch please!

                            Jerseygirl111

                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                              I wrote it down last night to bring to work, but left it at home! I'll try to do it from memory.

                              1 1/2 cups water
                              6 oz can orange juice concentrate
                              1 cup lemon juice
                              1 cup grenadine syrup
                              1/3 cup light corn syrup
                              2 liters ginger ale

                              I always double it. A) more leftovers, B) I've never seen a 6 oz can of concentrate!

                              I have the feeling I left out an ingredient, but it looks right. I prefer a tarter punch and sometimes lean more towards 1/4 cup of corn syrup and a little extra grenadine, but most of my family likes it sweeter, which means 1/2 cup.

                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                Wonderful! Love Grenadine and love punch! Thank you so much!

                                Jerseygirl111

                          2. Christmas Day was always the bigger dinner at our house, with turkey, tourtiere and all the trimmings! Sometimes more things were added such as " ragout" (pigs hock and meatballs stew)

                            Christmas eve dinner was always something light as we opened gifts at midnight and then a nice buffet of again varying size according to the number of people we were! But some staples were always there, little quiches, cocktail wieners in garlic rib sauce (VH brand, a quebec tradition)), rolls filled with ground meat and gougères. All good things before going to bed and make sure you sleep like a baby until late in the morning!

                            1. Christmas Day is our big family feast, which we have at night, and usually features a turkey. Christmas Eve is for the traditional sushi dinner ;-). Boxing Day we have an open house at my parents, an idea borrowed from our English background.

                              1. My brother's birthday is Christmas Eve, so we've always had a birthday meal that evening. Celebratory, but not Christmas-y. My parents, aunt/uncle, and grandparents always strongly felt that children should be in their own homes for Christmas morning, so we waited until the 26th for the extended family gather and big meal. Christmas day was (and still is) a laid back junk food fest. Now that us "kids" are all adults, but don't yet have kids of our own, we gather when it is most convenient for everyone. Sometimes the weekend before Christmas, some times Christmas day, sometimes later. A few years we've even had a "present party" in mid-January. I prefer being lazy on Christmas.

                                1. Christmas Day, without a date. We usually go to early Mass on Christmas Eve, followed by a "dinner" of appetizer-type foods. Sometimes it's just the people who live in our home, others a larger family group. Christmas Day is the big dinner with the entire family.

                                  1. Day. The in-laws do it Christmas Eve. Works for all of us.

                                    1. Growing up, when my family by blood was around me, Christmas Eve. Now, with my family by marriage, Christmas Day.

                                      1. Wow I must live in a box, I don't know a single person who does a christmas eve special dinner but I do know 63 people who are planning to attend our christmas day dinner.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: RetiredChef

                                          I must have grown up in that same box--neither my family nor anyone I knew did a special meal for Christmas Eve. I was in my twenties before I even heard of such a thing...my loss!

                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                            I guess it depends on where you grow up. In Germany, xmas eve is The Big Night, when also the presents are opened. I always thought it was stupid that American kids had to wait till the next day.

                                            That said, we usually had something special on both nights -- xmas eve at my mom's house would often mean various seafood specialties, or putting out the table grill for chicken hearts & livers, shrimp, beef tenderloin, etc., along with a variety of sauces and dips.

                                            My paternal grandmother would make wieners and potato salad (a "traditional" German xmas meal, besides goose or carp), or a fantastic game stew, or beef tongue in madeira sauce.

                                            My dad couldn't cook to save his life, so we'd generally go the wiener & potato salad route there as well.

                                            Now that I live in the US, and my man and I don't actually celebrate xmas, we still prepare something special and delicious for the two of us -- either day is fine.

                                          2. It's just my husband & I, so Christmas Day is the big meal - Julia Childs' "Steam-Roasted Goose with Port Wine Gravy, Czech Bread Dumplings with Sauerkraut, a good garlicy Potato Gratin, Butter-Braised Brussels Sprouts (try saying that 3 times fast - lol!), buttered dinner rolls, etc., etc.

                                            As for Christmas Eve? With all the cooking I do Christmas Day, our traditional Christmas Eve meal is takeout pizza - lol!!!

                                            1. Christmas Day is bigger since we eat over my husband's parents. Christmas Eve tends to the takeout arena.

                                              1. Christmas Eve is always bigger in my house. My daughter spend X-mas eve with me so I make a big dinner and then she goes to services with my ex before coming back to my house to open gifts and then enjoy a dessert.

                                                I don't celebrate Xmas so I usually order Chinese takeout and work, if the weather is bad. If the weather is good I spend the day outside with a friend who is also an unbeliever, unless I am entertaining relatives.

                                                1. Christmas Eve has always been the biggest event ever since I can remember as a wee child. Family tradition dictates oyster soup, prime rib roast or goose and plum pudding plus all the trimmings. The evening usually starts at seven, we're at the table at eight and everyone heads to the midnight services at 10:45. We open a limited amount of presents just after the plum pudding.

                                                  Christmas Day rituals have evolved over the years. While the Eve has always been a formal dinner we've become more casual about Christmas Day. Even the once heavy breakfast featuring sausages, scrapple and virginia ham has transitioned into simple pastries, and after the gifts are opened we go for long walks and visit family and friends and there's usually a simple dinner of roast chicken or something light.

                                                  1. Definitely Christmas Day. We often eat out on Christmas Eve. It is usually just our son and us. Daughter with 2 sons is busy getting her home and kitchen ready for Christmas Day dinner, which she has taken over from me within the last couple of years. She saw how difficult it is for me to do big dinners, God Bless her. Our other daughter is 599 miles away and works high up in retail. She has no children and works so those with children can be off. I am sure there will be a special blessing for her for that. But we sure miss her. Every 5 or so years she does come, and it is such a happy occasion to see the 3 'kids' enjoying each other.

                                                    1. While I know people who like a large Noche Buena feast on Christmas Eve, my family is too busy with last minute shopping, gift wrapping and preparing for the next day to do anything major. Since we fast before our feasts, dinner is usually perfunctory or skipped, but once we've returned from Midnight Mass and the feast is upon us, there is no holding back. It's the only time of year where I soberly eat like a drunkard at 2am. Virginia ham, Edam cheese, pasta salads, thick hot chocolate, sweets: it all gets hoovered before falling into the most satisfied sleep of the year.

                                                      Christmas dinner is the big day. 20 - 40 people, all family and friends, gathered together to share a huge meal. It was a magical time for me when I was a kid to look up and see my home overflowing with adults and the gifts they would bring me. Now I'm glad to be able to the same for the next generation.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: JungMann

                                                        You eat like that at 2 am in the morning? Wow. I don't think I could go to sleep for hours after a meal like that.

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          We usually nibble on the selection as if it were a little tapas spread. But even as small plates, the combination of pork and carbs is far more potent than tryptophan.

                                                        2. re: JungMann

                                                          I have to admit though not for religious reasons that I do the same but on Christmas Day and hoover down many plates of Chinese food before my official most satisfying sleep of the year.

                                                        3. We love to celebrate so have at least three special meals!
                                                          Christmas Eve we go meatless so usually have something based on shrimp and always flaming cheese (saganaki) with champagne, Caesar salad and Christmas cookies.
                                                          Between opening stockings and gifts under the tree we enjoy sausages, stollen, mimosas, and coffee spiked with Baily's on Christmas morning.
                                                          The fanciest meal is Christmas dinner when we revert to our English roots (including popping crackers and wearing tiaras) and have the full roast beef, Yorkshire pudding spread including a wonderful Horseradish Creamed Soup we discovered when visiting Ely Cathedral.
                                                          Can't wait....my mouth is already watering!

                                                          1. The seafood feast begins around 2pm on X-Mas Eve, and lasts throughout the night. Eat, drink, play cards, eat, drink, roam around, nap, eat, drink, play cards, all up until midnight, when the kids get to open their gifts under the tree.

                                                            Gifts are opened, adults go back to the sambuca, limoncello, and espresso while playing more cards until about 2-3am.

                                                            Some people depart, some people crash and sleep over, but everyone is right back around 10am for some light snacking and the last preparations for X-Mas day (some go to mass). Then it starts all over again around 2pm.

                                                            i.e. It's a 2 day event that kind of blends into each other.