Christmas Eve occurs annually on December 24. The anticipation of Christmas is often cause for celebration. Stockings are hung. Last minute gifts are wrapped.  Dishes are prepared for the big day. Some people open presents on this day rather than Christmas. Remember to leave out some milk and cookies for Santa!

Churches open their doors for solemn services. It is also the day Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus takes off on his journey delivering gifts around the world. It’s a wondrous time for children, especially when they hear that NORAD is tracking a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer through the skies.

Hearkening back to 16th century when Christian traditions were first influenced by winter solstice celebrations, decorating and preparing for Christmas Day took place the evening before. This included putting up the tree, decorating with mistletoe and holly, bringing in the Yule log and making dishes for the Christmas meal.

Jewish traditions have historically influenced Christian practices. One such practice is that the church day traditionally begins in the evening. Christian churches have celebrated Christmas Eve in part because it is believed that Jesus was born at midnight. Many churches today hold Christmas Eve services or Midnight Masses. I find it fascinating that Christians are celebrating the birth of their savior, the Son of God, a Jewish baby born in Bethlehem. It should give us pause to think of this miraculous Christian and Jewish mix.

So as the SouthCoast prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus, my request for a gift would be for everyone to have a home. I heard there was no room left at the Inn that Joseph and Mary stopped at, but maybe 2,000 years later, we can figure out a way to solve that challenge.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and fo;low him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.