Christmas Around the World
United States of America
Brief History of Christmas in the USA
- Between the years of 1659 and 1681, New England Puritans disapproved of the celebration of Christmas because they felt it was a heathen holiday.
- In 1789, Congress was actually in session on Christmas Day. The people felt that it was an "English" holiday and they stopped celebrating after the end of the American Revolution.
- Washington Irvin penned "The Sketchbook of Jeffrey Crayon," in which various Christmas Traditions. Even though they were what he envisioned, people began to incorporate these traditions into their holiday season.
- In 1850, Christmas trees start to be sold based on images in magazines of Britain's royalty.
- On June 26, 1870, Christmas became a federal holiday for those in the Washington D.C. area. In 1885, it was extended to all federal employees.
Christmas Traditions in the USA
One tradition that is celebrated in the United States is the sending of Christmas Cards. As with many of our US traditions, it got its start in England. In 1851, Richard Pease, commissioned the first printed card here in the US. Unfortunately, with the advent of electronic greetings, this tradition is one that is seeing major changes, though some feel that sending "snail mail" greetings is an important tradition to keep.
This is by far the tastiest Christmas Tradition! Many friends gather together and share cookies and recipes during Christmas Cookie Exchanges while others keep their family recipes near and dear to their hearts, only sharing the cookies and not the recipes. Traditional Christmas Cookies are sugar cookies cut out into various holiday shapes and decorated with icings, sprinkles, and other things. Gingerbread cookies are the other popular Christmas Cookies. They are cut outs of boys and girls that get decorated as well as gingerbread houses that are decorated with icings and candies. My favorite Christmas Cookies include sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and my great grandmother's cherry filled cookies!
Regional Christmas Fun
Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the United States, because of the variety of nationalities which have settled in it.
- In Alaska, boys and girls with lanterns on poles carry a large figure of a star from door to door. They sing carols and are invited in for supper.
- In Boston, carol singing festivities are famous. The singers are accompanied by hand bells.
- In New Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and with ribbons tied to its horns.
- In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas is kept up. This is a ritual procession and play representing the search of Mary and Joseph for a room at the inn. Families play the parts and visit each other's houses enacting and re-enacting the drama and, at the same time, having a look at each family's crib.
- In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship, which is a ship bringing a great load of Christmas fare. Santa Claus also arrives by boat.
- In California, Santa Claus sweeps in on a surf board.
- In Colorado, an enormous star is placed on the mountain, it can be seen for many kilometers around, while in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a star is lit in early December.
- I know that where I live, in the Anthracite Coal Fields of Northeastern Pennsylvania, you can find coal in your Christmas Stocking if Santa feels you weren't very good that year.