Christmas Eve Dinner Question- New Catholic Here


Hi guys-I’m a brand new Catholic as of this November. This never came up in RCIA. We talked about Lent and the Lenton sacrifice of no meat on Fridays. I do know there are other days- Is Christmas Eve is one of them? (And incidently are there any other days throughout the year?)

I have always had a big open house on Christmas Eve for Family and Friends with a big spread of appetizers and Honey Baked Ham.

I grew up Episcopalion (Catholic wannabees- they imitate the Catholics in a lot of areas) We followed the lenten tradition of no meat on Fridays. And my family use to have waffles on Christmas Eve- I thought it was just our personal family’s tradition but maybe it was a “Fast” thing – mom never said. Then we would go to Midnight Mass and when we got home from mass put the baby Jesus in the manger in the Nativity.

Anyway I can move my Christmas Open house up a day or two and then just have family over for Christmas Eve. I have heard it is an Italian thing to serve fish. I don't like fish, My Ancestry is English/ Austrian/ & Croatian.

What are some of your Christmas Eve traditions. Any good Christmas Eve recipes? What are you serving for Christmas Eve? I am doing the English thing on Christmas day and serving Prime Rib, Yorkshire pudding and Trifle etc. But what to do about Christmas Eve? :slight_smile:


We always have a big spread of heavy appetizers for Christmas eve. Things like honeybaked ham, other cold cuts, barbecued meatballs, shrimp, veggies, dips, etc. Mmm… I can’t wait.


Christmas Eve used to be a fast day years ago. That is why the Italians, Polish, Slovaks all used to have special foods involving fish in the menu. They ate it after the midnight Mass because the Eucharistic fast used to be longer than 1 hr. before receiving. Nowadays, many families maintain the traditions of their nationality and still have these types of meals, but there is no prescribed fast for Christmas Eve. You can eat whatever you wish on Christmas Eve, either before or after midnight Mass, as long as you do not eat at least 1 hr. prior to receiving Holy Communion.


This year Christmas Eve will be Chili with cornbread, desserts - yummmmmm.


This might help explain the Friday fasting all year long.

Penitential Days

*]Ash Wednesday—This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season. The imposition of ashes is an ancient penitential practice symbolizing our dependence upon God’s mercy and forgiveness. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence in the Church.
*]Good Friday—Christ suffered and died for our salvation on Friday. On the Friday that we call “Good,” the Church gathers to commemorate Jesus’ Passion and death. Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence. The Good Friday fast is the Paschal fast—a fast of anticipation and longing for the Passover of the Lord, which should continue, when possible, through Holy Saturday.
*]Fridays During Lent—In the United States, the tradition of abstaining from meat on each Friday during Lent is maintained.
*]Fridays Throughout the Year—In memory of Christ’s suffering and death, the Church prescribes making each Friday throughout the year a penitential day. All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday.[/LIST]


And here are the Canon Law guidelines:

**Canon 1250 ** All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Canon 1253 It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.


I think this sort of thing is what the OP was asking about. From that website:

Preparations for Christmas Eve take all day. The house is cleaned, food prepared not only for the special supper (Kucios) but also for the first day of Christmas. People fast and abstain from meat. Lithuanians still adhere to this custom though the Church has abolished abstinence: food may be eaten as often as desired, even meat. It used to be said that only a handful of boiled peas and water may be taken on Christmas Eve. Only small children, the infirm or very old persons were allowed to eat a bit more.

Although official fasting no longer exists, we should refrain from meat on Christmas Eve so as to preserve Lithuanian tradition. .It is vitally important that the Christmas Eve dinner (or supper) include no meat dishes because it could then no longer be called Kucios but an ordinary meal prepared for any other evening.

Bold emphasis is mine. The fast is not required by the Church, but it is a tradition of the nationality. If one does not belong to a nationality that has such traditions, he probably does not have any special foods for Christmas Eve.


Thanks, everyone has been most helpful especially about fast days. :slight_smile: Still interested in everyones Christmas Eve traditions, menus and recipes. Thanks in Advance


Here are the Croatian Christmas traditions.


Seems that the OP wanted to know about fast days, and her RCIA did not provide this info. :shrug:


That’s true.

I can also see where some things may be confusing to a new Catholic if he is in a parish with a lot of people who follow customs from their nationalities. It could be difficult to understand what is official Church teaching and what is simply the custom of those nationalities.


Hi Kage - Partly my fault - I didn’t think to ask in RCIA about other fast days? I am now in the class for new Catholics but that is now only every other week. So I thought I would bring it up here. Thanks for all the replies. Deana :slight_smile:


Our Christmas Eve we spend with my in-laws. We go out to dinner with them, then attend their (non demonimational) church service. Then, it’s back to their place to spend time together. We usually go to midnight Mass, and then go to my parents’ home for Christmas day.


Christmas Eve is reserved for our immediate family. We don’t have anything special for dinner, just something that is quick to fix and clean up. We go to evening Mass (no midnight Mass here), then the girls get to open one present which is always pajamas. They take their baths, put on their new pajamas and we load up into the car. We drive around town looking at the Christmas lights. After we come home, we have hot chocolate and cookies. My husband does the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” and we tuck the girls into bed.

Then comes the frantic putting together unassembled toys, and bringing gifts out from their hiding places to put under the tree. Sometimes some last minute wrapping since the stuff is easier to hide if they are still in packing boxes.

Christmas morning we have a leisurely opening of gifts and hanging out in our pajamas. We do have family and friends who come to visit on Christmas day, but we have been known to entertain in our jammies. Jammie days are few and far between in our house, and we take advantage of any opportunity.

Christmas dinner is ham and my husbands killer macaroni and cheese (he uses 3 pounds of cheese in it!!)


When I was a child, we did the Italian thing–the fish,etc., with the whole family, and midnight Mass. I miss it. Now my husband and I live alone in this town, no family near, his parents are deceased, my Mother lives 11/2 hours away, kids live 21/2 away. Now we go to my daughter’s house when I am not on call for the 24th and the 25th, and celebrate it with her in-laws, who are just like family, and my son and his wife. They usually have a spread of ham, shrimp, appetizers, pizza, etc. after 4pm Mass. On Christmas morning my daughter has everyone over for breakfast, then my husband and I provide and cook the main meal, which consists of wedding soup, a turkey or a nice prime rib, pasta and other fixins and we play with the grandkids. If I have just Christmas off, we will go to my Mom’s and spend it with the rest of the family (lots of kids), and she has a big dinner. So it is sort of fractured, depending if I have to be on call or not. I hate having the family spread all over the place. But the big thing–after Mass, is FOOD, and plenty of it.:slight_smile:


Sounds like a lot of fun! :thumbsup:


Right now our Christmases are fairly sedate. Christmas Eve is spent with my parents: we have a big fancy dinner, go to Mass (usually 9pm, Midnight only if I’m singing with the choir) then back to the parents’ house for presents. DH and I only live 10 minutes away so we go home after that. Christmas Day is often spent with the in-laws. This year we’re driving the two hours to their home for more dinner and presents. In years past his extended family has done a big party but it doesn’t look as though that will happen this year.

When I was little Christmas Eve was a huge deal. First, family Mass at 4:30 pm, then on to my maternal grandparents’ house. Mom is one of seven kids, so the place was full to bursting with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and Grandpa running around with his hand-held 35mm movie camera (the kind that used the film reels). They always had the best trees: real evergreens with big, frosted ball lights and tinsel. After dinner and presents there, we had a half-hour drive to my dad’s oldest brother’s house. Dad is also one of seven kids, so again, the house was full to bursting. Since Dad is 1st generation Mexican-American, we had tons of Mexican goodies including the homemade tamales that the whole family had prepared the weekend before. My uncle would set up a pinata in the basement for the kids, and I remember his daughter (a year younger than me) crying because she didn’t want to hurt it. After more presents there, we would drive home in the dark, and Dad would point out blinking red lights on the planes flying into the airport and try and convince me that Santa was in the air, with Rudolph leading the way.


We drive back to our home town for Christmas.

Christmas Eve is with my parents/sibs and kids. An easy meal, sometimes pizza, sometimes a deli tray, this year chili. After food, Dad reads St. Luke’s Gospel about the birth of Christ (this brings tears, I remember my grandpa doing this before he passed on.) Then we do presents - lots of mess and paper. Games for the rest of the evening.

We are the only Catholics, so Christmas morning is early Mass for DH DS and I (sometimes we do Midnight Mass).

Then to the in-laws for a big breakfast and more presents.

Afternoon is Christmas dinner at Grand mother in-law’s, ham and all the trimmings, a few gifts and games.


My Christmas Eve traditions don’t involve food, but I MUST watch ‘Scrooge’ (The good one! With Alistair Sim!) and Midnight Mass on TV.


Christmas Eve has to have eggnog of some sort try soynog if you can’t tolerate milk products.

Spike it a little if you can, and toast to all and the thanksgiving for the year and blessings for the next.

We are celebrating Jesus so I often have made a B-Day cake for Him or bought one at the Dairy Queen, and we sing happy birthday.

Start a tradition that has the advent candles in it and you will give the family something to carry on.
The past few years when we are all together we each take a turn reading from the Christmas Story, and scripture.

We usually have a mass, diff times diff Churches, no midnight this year :frowning: and my dh and I celebrate our personal presents and also watch the Christmas carol or the Bishops wife, his favorite. Because we know the next day will be hectic. We may do things diff this year though because our son and family will be here from W. V.

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