For the Christmas festivities, the following Holy Masses led by the Pope are held:
24 December: 10:00pm Holy Christmas Mass in the Vatican Basilica.
From the Papacy of Benedict XVI, this mass is celebrated at 10:00pm in the evening and no longer at midnight as in previous tradition.
25 December: 12:00pm Solemnities of the Nativity of the Lord. Benediction “Urbi et Orbi” in the central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica “Loggia del Maggiordomo”.
1 January: 10:00am Mass in the Vatican Basilica for World Peace Day. The Pope pronounces his message for peace. Normally the Ambassadors can receive communion from the Pope.
Two traditions are held every year in the Vatican for the Christmas festivities:
Introduced by Pope John Paul II in 1982, this event involves the erection of a large Christmas tree in Saint Peter’s Square in the splendid setting of the Bernini Colonnade. This tree is donated every year to the Pope from a different mountainous region of Europe. An official delegation of the country donating the tree visits Rome specifically for the lighting ceremony, preceded by a private audience by the Pope at the Holy See with the Diplomatic Body of the accredited Embassy, the Representatives of the region donating the tree, its Bishop and pilgrims who come to Rome for this event.
The Governatorate coordinates the technical aspects of the erection where the Prefecture coordinates the audience of the delegation and participation of pilgrims in the lighting ceremony.
The Nativity Scene
Introduced in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, this tradition involves setting up a large Nativity Scene at the foot of the Vatican obelisk within the Bernini Colonnade. It is set up by the Vatican City Governatorate.