Christmas stories seen through children's eyes Christmas in the countries of Europe - Page 5

(Holy Evening or Heiliger Abend). [69]:68–79 The Christkind is invisible; thus he is never seen by anyone. However, he rings a bell just before he leaves in order to let children know that the Christmas tree and the presents are ready. It is a tradition to lavishly decorate a Christmas tree in the days directly before Christmas or on the morning of Christmas Eve. On late Christmas Eve, after the bell rings, the tree is shown to the children and presents are exchanged. In Protestant churches, there is a service in the late afternoon intended to immediately precede the Christmas Eve meal and the exchanging of gifts. This service, called Christvesper, consists most often of scriptural readings, the Christmas Gospel from Luke 2, a Krippenspiel(nativity play), favourite Christmas carols and festive music for organ and choirs. In some regions the tradition of Quempas singing is still popular. Some Lutheran churches also celebrate a candlelight service at midnight besides the Christmas Vespers in the afternoon or early evening. Many Catholic churches also have a first Mass of Christmas, called Christmette, on "Heiliger Abend" about 4 p.m. for the children and parents to attend before the families return home for their meal. The crib is a very important part of the celebrations in Catholic areas especially Bavaria. I n the largely Roman Catholic Poland, Christmas Eve begins with a day of fasting and then a night of feasting. The Christmas meal as Wigilia ("The Vigil"), is known and being traditional invited to