The United States has such a diversity of cultures and traditions, it is actually quite difficult to say what is uniquely American. Many of the Christmas holiday activities vary from family to family and often depend on the cultural heritage of the family members.
In the United States, Christmas is observed on the 25th of December.
Here the festive season traditionally begins on the fourth Thursday in November, just after the Thanksgiving holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, a spectacular parade is taken out in New York City that has the smiling figure of Santa Claus participating in it. It indicates the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Department stores, shopping malls and small shops ready themselves appropriately for the season to attract shoppers and get them to spend quite a few bucks on Christmas trees, gifts, apparel, greeting cards, and suchlike.
Many churches and private homes display illuminated Nativity Scenes commemorating the humble birth of Jesus Christ, Many people also set up the Christmas tree in their homes on this day.
Christmas Night in the USA
Christmas dinner in the U.S. includes turkey or ham, potatoes, and pie. Cakes are of course, a must for the occasion. The menu also consists of a lot of desserts such as the “Crostoli,” a fried bread spiced with orange peel, a bread full of sweet spices or the “Berlinerkranser” – a Norwegian wreath-shaped cookie. Baked breads and cookies are also part of the dinner list. At Christmas Eve gatherings adults drink eggnog, a drink made of cream, milk, sugar, beaten eggs and brandy or rum.
After dinner on Christmas Eve, children go to bed early but not before hanging up their stockings on the fireplace or the end of their bed to be filled with gifts and goodies by Santa Claus. On the following morning, children wake up to look for their desired items in their stockings and also find nicely wrapped presents under their Christmas tree.
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree plays an important part in the holiday tradition. Often times it is topped by a star to represent the Star of Bethlehem, or by an angel which announces the birth of Christ. Many family trees have ornaments from more than one generation. Often times the heritage of the families are represented by the kind of decorations on the trees. Lights are a must and the more the better. The tree is often placed so that it can be viewed by passers-by in the street. Many living or family rooms are on the street-side in American homes.
Many families also decorate the outside of the home with regional traditions and according to the weather. Some forms of lighting is often used in homes and in the yards during the holidays. There are snowmen, Santas, manger scenes, snowflakes, reindeer, and other lighted displays in many neighborhoods. Others outline the architectural features of their homes in light. There is sometimes a creche placed that represents the stable wherein the Christ child was born and has Mary, Joseph, the Child and various animals in attendance.
Food plays an important part in American Christmas. It is often a time of an extended open house with friends dropping by to bring gifts or just to wish everyone a happy holiday. At this time it is appropriate to offer these guests food and beverage, so many homes have a variety of treats prepared in advance for these occasions. Although many families serve a variety of menus for Christmas dinner, the standard fare seems to include turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, a salad and some sort of dessert.
Various churches play an important part in American Christmas. Many families feel that it is important to go to church on Christmas. There are also a variety of associated activities such as church dinners, live Nativity scenes, choir concerts, special church services, and a fostering of the spirit of giving to those less fortunate.
How to Send Christmas Cards On Time in the United States
Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Annual retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion.
The most popular Seasonal cards are Christmas cards, with some 1.3 billion units purchased, for Valentine’s Day (145 million units), Mother’s Day (113 million units), Father’s Day (72 million units), Graduation (59 million units), Easter (40 million units), Halloween (20 million units), Thanksgiving (16 million units) and St. Patrick’s Day (7 million units).
Getting a Christmas card in the mail is one of the best parts of the holidays! If you plan on mailing cards to your friends and family members, it’s best to send them out as soon as possible to beat the holiday rush. If you’re running behind, don’t worry—there are a few ways to send your cards to get them to their destinations by Christmas Day.
Popular trends in 3D greeting cards include popup cards and multi-layer paper cards. 8 out of 10 people agree that greeting cards cannot be replaced by social media. Most people now acknowledge many more birthdays than ever before because of social media, but they aren’t necessarily sending fewer cards as a result.
Millennials now spend more dollars on greeting cards in the US on an annual basis than Baby Boomers, averaging $6 per card, although Baby Boomers still purchase more units. The dollars spent and units purchased by Millennials has been growing steadily for years, as that age group enters the kin-keeping phase of their lives—purchasing a house, getting married and having children.
Reference: greetingcard.org; Christmas-day.org