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Mixed traditions in America

Christmas in America is a time of good cheer with friends and family, exchanging gifts and decorating your homes with cheerful lights and pinetrees.  Eating tasty treats such as sugar cookies and candycanes, sipping hot apple cider by the fireplace, and going to candlelight sermons at church. Unless you instead decorate your homes with giant inflatable Santa Clauses or drink eggnog with spiced brandy and eat seafood for your traditional meal.

Some americans reject Christmas and instead celebrate by constructing poles made of stacked beer cans for the non-secular holiday Festivus. Some celebrate other holidays such as Hanukah for the Jewish or Kwanza for those who take no part in the mainstream celebration of Christmas. American holidays can be a bit confusing.

Since America is such a large country with no singular culture there are no set traditions to be followed. Each family celebrates the holiday in their own way.

Some families follow a lot of European founded traditions with a decorated Christmas tree and the outside of their home covered with lights. There are also many, many stuffed Santa Clauses filling nearly every available space. A favourite holiday tradition for some is setting up the nativity scene, a representation of the stable where Jesus was born, some even using figurines that have been passed down from previous generations.

Others observe very different traditions. They have a large family feast on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day, when most Americans usually celebrate. Being Hispanic their menu is very different, with many homemade traditional Mexican dishes that come alive with their spices.

The big traditions that have permeated most homes however are the gifts. Giving gifts has become, along with eating massive amounts of home cooked meals, a big part of Christmas in America. Not only do people give to the people in their lives but the holidays are also a time when the number of volunteers and donations to charitable causes increases massively.  To a degree where people will even donate in the name of another as a gift, a trend that has become fairly popular in recent years.

So in short, there are no culturally singular traditions for this time of year in the States. Each home you enter will be different in its own wonderful way. That is probably the greatest joy of Christmas in America, is that everyone is so different but will open their homes to others and make them feel welcome as part of the family.

/ Robert Brewster Skribent

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