As an International Gateway, Columbus, Ohio draws various families from across the nation and around the world. The diversity of the city is especially noted during the Christmas season when we note that some families celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, Christmas Day, while others center their celebration on December 24, Christmas Eve. In discussing which day families prefer in the Columbus Metropolitan area, we find that a number of families carried out a variety of traditions on Christmas Eve.
Some families go to Christmas Eve service, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, and return to open gifts later. Others enjoy activities at home, such as a special meal, prepared on Christmas Eve before opening gifts. Still others may attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service and wait until Christmas Day to exchange gifts.
Christmasnite.com lists some of the many traditions and beliefs associated with Christmas Eve:
- People believe that on Christmas Eve when the clock strikes twelve; animals get the power of speech. The voice of the animals is heard only to those with pure hearts. Those who are impure will not hear the voice of animals.
- In France, people believe that if you chant the genealogy of Christ during mid night then hidden treasures will be exposed of to you.
- In Russia, the buried treasures are exposed to heaven every evening that comes between Christmas day and the Feast of Epiphany, as they believe that on the eves of these days, the gatesof heaven are opened and the watersof spring turn into wine.
For some ideas on how to celebrate Christmas Eve, click here.
Apollo 8 remembered on Christmas Eve
As we approach Christmas Eve, we are reminded of an event that occurred on that day 42 years ago when Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis, the first 10 verses of Chapter 1.
According to the Chicago Tribune, this is how that came about:
Since Apollo 8 was not able to launch until Dec. 21, 1968, this meant that they would go into lunar orbit on Christmas Eve after four days of travel. NASA scheduled an international television hookup with the three astronauts and told them to “think about something appropriate to say.”
The three astronauts, trained engineers and jet pilots, knew that memorable prose was not their forte.
A friend asked Joe Laitin, a magazine writer then working as a spokesman for the U.S.Bureau of the Budget, to take a stab. Laitin’s wife told him to look in the Old Testament for the real poetry—in Genesis.
“It was perfect,” said Lovell. “The first 10 verses of Genesis are the foundation of Judaism, Islam and Christianity” and spoke to core beliefs of most world religions.
And so it was that the astronauts took turns reading those verses to an estimated billion people who had tuned in.
Below are scenes from the Apollo 8 flight and lunar landing of Apollo 11 along with a recording of the reading from Genesis 1 by the Apollo 8 crew.