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Christmas Eve (Heiliger Abend) is celebrated in Germany on December 24. It is the last day of Advent and the start of the Christmas season. Many people spend the afternoon and evening decorating Christmas trees, attending church services, eating traditional dishes and opening Christmas presents.
Many people travel to spend the late afternoon and evening with family members on Christmas Eve. Many people decorate a Christmas tree and some attend midnight mass. Midnight mass is a church service that traditionally starts late in the evening but now often starts earlier in the evening to allow whole families to attend.
Later in the evening, many families open their Christmas presents that were placed under the Christmas tree. In many Protestant families, children are told that Father Christmas or Santa Claus brought the presents. In many Catholic families, they are told that the Christ Child gave the presents. A traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of carp (a type of fish), potato salad, boiled potatoes, cucumber salad and lemon slices.