American Christmas Traditions
American Christmas traditions are popular all over the world. America is a cosmopolitan country, so it very difficult to pin-point which traditions are purely American and which have been borrowed from other cultures. People in America celebrate Christmas with all the traditions; many old traditions are continued till date while several new ones have also been included in the festivities. Generally Americans celebrate Christmas by visiting families, exchanging greetings and gifts and a family get together over a traditional home cooked Christmas meal.
Many joyful activities such as coming together of families, singing of carols, church prayers, gift exchange and decoration of trees are some of the American Christmas traditions. Christmas time is the time when everybody takes a holiday and joins in the fun and festivities of the celebrations. Right after Thanksgiving, people start preparing for celebrating Christmas.
Santa Claus is perhaps the most widely recognized figure and tradition of Christmas all over the world. Santa or Father Christmas is the big jolly fellow who visits homes on the night of Christmas Eve bringing gifts for children. Dressed in red robes with white borders, a black belt and black boots, Santa comes from North Pole with an entourage consisting of nine reindeers and the elves that assist him in making the gifts. It is believed that Santa descends to houses through the chimney and puts the gift in the stockings that are kept hanging by the fireplace.
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is a Christmas tradition that originated in Germany, but it has become an important part of American Christmas tradition. The Christmas tree is decorated with lights, colored papers and other colorful ornaments. In some America families the decorative ornaments are preserved for generations, these decorations represent the family heritage. Often Christmas tree decorations are topped with a star that represents the star of Bethlehem or by an angel who announces the birth of Christ.
A Christmas celebration in most American homes begins on Christmas Eve i.e. 24th December. On this day children are encouraged to go sleep early so that Santa can come down and fill up their stockings with gifts. Families go to attend church services together at night and eat a specially cooked dinner. Gifts are opened the next day, but some families prefer to open them on the night of Christmas Eve in America. Carol singers go from house to house singing hymns on this night. Families sit together in front of the decorated Christmas tree and read the bible.
Exchanging Christmas card has become an inherent part of American Christmas traditions. It is a very old custom believed to have originated in England but it is followed in many parts of the world including America. There are several options for sending Christmas cards. In this age of technology, sending across Egreetings are very popular. Estimates suggest that Americans send out more than 2 billion greeting cards during the festive season. The United States Postal Service issues special postage stamps that are used for sending Christmas cards.
American Christmas Carol
Singing of carols during the festive season is another important tradition in many cultures. In America carol singers gather around the piano and sing all the famous carols. Carol singers go from door to door singing for neighbors; sometimes the carol singers are offered food as well. Even those who are not good singers take part in this as the aim is just to enjoy the occasion with family and friends by singing.
American Christmas Gifts
Exchanging of gifts family, friends and relatives is a very common American Christmas tradition. Some people start buying and accumulating things to be given as gifts during the summer season; it is always better to start buying gifts early. Christmas gifts are placed under the tree and children love to open, in fact the first thing that most kids do on the morning of Christmas Day is open the gifts.
American Christmas Food
No celebration can be complete without food, so it is an important part of Christmas traditions in America. The main menu of American Christmas food consists of roasted poultry like turkey, beef, ham or pork. Other items may include green beans, stuffing or dressing, squash and mashed potato. Desserts regularly reflect the ethical background of the maker and can include carrot cake, apple pie, sugar cookies, fruitcake, pumpkin pie, panettone and mince pie. Often families prepare the dessert together, children have great fun in this as they are rewarded with goodies afterwards.