America is often called the 'melting pot', as it has a mixed bag of traditions from countries across the world. Christmas celebrations in the USA exemplify a perfect blend of customs mainly from countries such as England and Australia that introduced them to carols, Germany who familiarized the Americans to Christmas trees, Latin America that gave them the concept of parades and also, Netherlands that introduced them to Santa Claus. Apart from being a large number of similarities, each region in America has its own specialties. Another interesting fact about Christmas in the United States is that they have five different time zones, owing to which you can see snowmen and sunshine in various regions. Although Christmas is commercialized in this country, America still embraces the various cultures thus making this festive day more memorable. Read on to learn about the details of Christmas in America.
American Christmas Customs
As in the case of most countries, United States of America also observes Christmas on the 25th of December. The festive season typically begins on the fourth Thursday of November i.e. following the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. During this day, a spectacular procession with Santa Claus and other dancers and performers, takes place. Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season.
City Of Lights
Weeks before Christmas, houses are decorated with trees that are beautified with coloured lights, tinsels, bright ornaments, stars and angels. Electric lights are installed in homes, commercial buildings and business centers too. Santa Claus, snowmen, reindeers form a major part of the festivities.
Since Christmas Eve is not an official holiday in America, offices hold celebrations and parties is spread cheer and joy. But, schools and universities are closed, because of which children take part in the merriment and help their parents with decorations. Roman Catholics attend midnight masses and participate in carols singing. Protestant churches conduct special services with the famous 'manger scene'. As per tradition, children hang up stockings before going to bed on Christmas Eve hoping that Santa would fill it with presents.
Traditional Christmas Dinner
The traditional Christmas dinner in USA includes turkey or ham, potatoes or pie. Cakes are mandatory for the occasion; the menu also comprises of crostoli, fried bread spiced with orange peel and 'pfeffernuesse' that is bread made with sweet spices. Baked bread and cookies are additional delicacies. Adults drink a concoction made of cream, milk, beaten eggs, sugar and rum or brandy.
The Legend Of Santa Claus
The story of Santa Claus originated in the United States in 1860's. This name was based on the Dutch word, St. Nicholas. Santa Claus did not become famous until the novelist, Washington Irving, wrote about him in 1809. Santa Claus was made popular in his reddish suit, reindeer, pipe and sleigh.
In Hawaii, people wish their distant neighbours by shooing fireworks across the sky. Santa arrives on a boat, as opposed to a reindeer and the Christmas dinner is eaten in the open. In Alaska, a star is positioned on a pole and taken from one door to another with Herod's men trying to capture the star. The locals decorate colonial doorways with pineapple, which signify a symbol of hospitality. In Washington D.C, a huge tree is grandly lit and when the President presses a button, all the lights turn on. In New Orleans, a huge ox is displayed on the streets, which is decorated with holly and ribbons being tied to its horns.
It is the diversity in celebrations that makes Christmas celebrations in the United States a unique one.
Christmas in the United States of America is one of a kind. Read about American Christmas customs and traditions in USA.