The Vatican's Christmas festivities begin several hours earlier Wednesday with the unveiling of the larger-than-life Nativity scene next to the Vatican's largest-ever Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict traditionally lights a candle in his studio window at nightfall in a sign of peace.
At midnight he will lead the faithful in Mass celebrating the birth of Christ.
Benedict delivers his traditional Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" speech - Latin for "to the city and to the world" - from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on Thursday, and is then expected to issue Christmas greetings in more than 60 languages.
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