The United States of America has many different traditions and ways in which people celebrate Christmas, because of its multicultural nature.
Many customs are similar to those of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Mexico.
The traditional food for families in Western Europe is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Families from Eastern European origins prefer turkey with side dishes, keilbasi (a Polish sausage), cabbage dishes and soups; and some Italian families prefer lasagna!
Some Americans use popcorn with string to help decorate their Christmas tree! Making gingerbread houses is also popular to make and eat at Christmas!
Many Americans, especially Christians, will go to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Many churches have special services and events for Christmas carols where the story of Christmas is told.
In New England (the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine), there are stores called “Christmas Stores” that only sell Christmas decorations and toys throughout the year.
Americans also send Christmas cards, like Carol singing, and there is the unusual habit of Christmas brining!
The people of America like to decorate the exterior of their houses with lights and, sometimes, even with statues of Santa Claus, snowmen and reindeer. Some cookies and a glass of milk are often left out as a snack for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!
Towns and cities often decorate the streets with lights to celebrate Christmas. Perhaps the most famous Christmas lights in the United States are at the Rockefeller Center in New York, where there is a huge Christmas tree with a public ice skating rink at Christmas and New Year.
In Hawaii, Santa is called Kanakaloka!
Customs like the mummy take place in some communities. On New Year’s Day in Philadelphia there is a Mummer Day parade that lasts more than six hours! The clubs called “New Year’s Associations” are presented with incredible costumes that take months to make. There are four categories (Comics, Fancy, String Bands and Fancy Brigades) that are judged.
In the Southwest of the United States, there are some special customs that have some similarities with those of some parts of Mexico. These include ‘luminarias’ or ‘farolitos’, that are sacks of paper partially filled with sand and soon they have a candle put. They are lit on Christmas Eve and the edges of the roads are laid. They represent ‘light the way’ for Mary and Joseph to stay somewhere.
A popular Christmas meal in the southwestern United States are tamales.
In southern Louisiana, on Christmas Eve, families in small communities along the Mississippi River light bonfires along the levees (the banks of the high river) to help “Santa Claus” (Santa’s name). in French, since Louisiana has a strong historical connection with France) finds its way to children’s homes!