Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Christmas in America
For millions of Christians, Christmas is the happiest as well as the busiest holiday of the year. The celebrations vary depending on the country, heritage, and customs of the people involved. Most Americans and Canadians decorate their homes, offices, schools, and stores with trees trimmed with lights, tinsel and colorful ornaments as well as wreaths and other Christmas decorations including Nativity sets. Yards and city streets are bright with colorful lights. The sounds of bells and Christmas carols fill the air. People send holiday cards to family members, friends and business associates. Children write letters to Santa Claus to tell him of their desires for gifts. Malls hire substitute Santas to listen to requests from children and to hand out treats. Presents are placed under the Christmas trees to be opened either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning. Children hang Christmas stockings so that Santa can fill them with candy, fruits and small gifts as he travels from house to house in his sleigh pulled by reindeer. A special part of the Christmas celebration is being with other people. Carolers walk from house to house singing Christmas carols. Special Christmas services are held in churches decorated with evergreen branches, red poinsettias and Nativity scenes. Families and friends join together for special feasts. A traditional American feast includes turkey with dressing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, other dishes, and wonderful desserts. Some people have ham or roast goose instead of turkey. Eggnog is a favorite drink for many people. In various parts of the United States and Canada, some ethnic groups celebrate Christmas using customs from their native countries. Some people in the American Southwest observe traditional Spanish customs. Some people in the Quebec, Canada, area observe French customs. Some Black Americans combine Christmas with the Afro-American holiday called Kwanzaa.