Christmas in the United States of America is full of traditions, customs, and legends like many other aspects of the US’ spiritual heritage. A unique interweaving of the world’s diverse cultural influences.
It is said that in The United States of America, Christmas is celebrated in every possible way! But that doesn’t mean that Americans haven’t developed new holiday traditions. Characters like Rudolph and Frosty the reindeer have become as famous as Santa Claus. Not uninteresting is the infusion into American culture of iconic advertising images, such as Coca-Cola’s signature polar bears.
Americans boast that the present Santa Claus was ‘born’ in the United States. Thanks to a myriad of artists, writers, and, of course, legends.
Where does the name Santa Claus come from?
This first American Santa Claus also known as St. Nicholas, smoked a pipe, and flew in a self-propelled sleigh (not pulled by reindeer), was not dressed in red. Therefore, he did not live at the North Pole as children know him today.
The name Santa Claus is said to come from the Dutch word for Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas. Although the Dutch brought this character to America in the 17th century, he didn’t become a symbol of Christmas until 1809. When the writer Washington Irving wrote a book about him.
In 1863, the “made in America” Santa Claus was given the name Santa Claus. And was outfitted with red clothing and a reindeer sleigh.
6 Christmas Traditions in the Different States
Nowadays, Christmas is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the United States because of the variety of nationalities that have settled throughout America.
1. Christmas in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the Moravians continue their tradition of building a winter wonderland under the tree. Known as a “putz,” in the same state, the children of German immigrants are accustomed to receiving gifts from the Belsnickle (a German Santa Claus). Who sometimes beats those who have been naughty during the year with a stick.
2. Christmas in Alaska
In Alaska, the practice continues to this day, namely that Santa arrives in these sunny lands on a boat and the Christmas meal is held outdoors. Also, in Alaska, a star is carried from house to house, followed by Herod’s so-called men who try to capture it. The doors of homes in this area are often adorned with pineapple fruit, a symbol of hospitality.
3. Christmas in Washington
In Washington D.C., the lights of an enormous and spectacular Christmas tree are lit each year in a ceremony in which the main staff is the U.S. President himself. Also here, caroling festivities are heralded, with singers accompanied by hand drums.
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4. Christmas in New Orleans
In New Orleans, a huge buffalo is paraded through the streets, its horns adorned with ribbons and ilk branches.
American homes are adorned with boughs of yarrow, mistletoe, and fir trees, and most have a Christmas tree decorated with lights, tinsel, balloons, popcorn garlands, and multicolored lollipops in the shape of candy canes. So, in Bethlehem, New Orleans, there is a custom of lighting a big star as early as the beginning of December.
5. Christmas in Arizona
In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas takes place, with a procession and a play depicting Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. The play is also performed among family members, each of whom plays a different role, especially during visits between relatives. There is also a small set in each house where, with the help of figurines and other details, the birth of the Lord is re-enacted.
6. Christmas in California
In California, Santa arrives lately on a surfboard. So the traditional American Christmas meal consists of a turkey roast, accompanied by vegetables and gravy. Other typical dishes are roast goose, roast duck, or ham, served with cranberry sauce. For dessert, a fruit pudding (especially plum pudding) is prepared with brandy or pumpkin pie. Other traditional sweets are mince pies and pates filled with a mixture of dried fruit.
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How many homes did Santa have?
On Christmas Eve, Polish Americans scatter hay on the kitchen floor and under the tablecloth. As a commemoration of the stable and manger where Jesus Christ was born. When preparing the festive meal, they place two extra chairs reserved for the Blessed Virgin Mary. And Baby Jesus in case they knock on the door to ask for shelter.
In America, Santa Claus is known to have two homes. One is in Torrington, Connecticut, where Santa and his helpers give out presents. A second is in Wilmington, New York, where a village is home to Santa Claus and his reindeer.
In Philadelphia, a procession called the “Pantomime Parade” lasts an entire day. And is spiced up by the presence of numerous bands, dancers, and participants dressed in fancy costumes.
What do they say about Santa Claus in America?
Like the image of Santa Claus. We all have his image in our minds: a rosy-cheeked old man, always cheerful, with a white beard and red clothes. Thank Coca-Cola for this depiction of Santa. The company hired an illustrator in the 1930s to create an image of Santa for use in advertisements for the popular drink. It’s been perfected over the years and has caught on so well that who could imagine Santa now as a tall, shaggy old man in shabby clothes?
In America, Santa is said to bring presents to good children and nuts or coal to naughty ones. An idea also spread in the 1930s with the release of the song “Santa Clause is coming to town”. And now, thanks to the lyrics of this song, children all over the world know the same story about Santa Claus watching over them all year round.
So the story and the image were also created on American soil. And whether we speak English or not, we all know how to say Merry Christmas, the American greeting, rather than Happy Christmas, the British version. If we were Americans, we wouldn’t have to think long to answer the North Pole’s question, “Where does Santa come from?” Lapland, on the other hand, would seem a little out of place.
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- Christmas for Americans as a Christian holiday is a Theophany, as a revelation of God. So St. Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy that: God appeared in the flesh (3:16). And how did God appear in the flesh, if not by being born as a man? Therefore, He was a man as we are, of flesh and blood, as it is written: since the infants became partakers of blood and flesh. In the same way, He also shared in them (Hebrews 2:14).
- The Americans assert that the cave in which Jesus was born served as a stable for beasts. Where the Most Holy and Most Blessed Virgin, in the middle of the night. Praying to God with fervent fervor and with all her mind on God. Burning with His desire and love, painlessly gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ on the twenty-fifth of December.
- According to tradition in the United States of America, the Christmas season is characterized by culinary richness. In which pork dishes predominate. As these dishes are difficult to digest, some of them contain a lot of harmful fats, nutritionists and physiotherapists recommend caution and moderation in eating such products.
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From its Puritan roots to commercials, Christmas has been full of traditions, old and new. Although many of the customs date back to 16th century Germany or even to the times of Ancient Greece, others have taken hold in modern times and have come to the American land.
So now, on the eve of the holiday, we can only send you our best thoughts, good health, and may the magic of Christmas fill your souls with joy.