Mer-ry x-mas! – christmas eve in the usa

In movies, American Christmas always looks colorful. Kids here look forward to Santa Claus, not Santa Claus – But how do families in the U.S. actually celebrate Christmas??

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© Jim, Springfield PA USA, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Stockings by the fireplace

Christmas Eve is called "Christmas Eve" in the U.S. This evening, kids hang stockings on the fireplace or stair railings at home. These stockings are gift stockings in which Santa Claus, the American Santa Claus, puts small gifts.

But Santa Claus doesn’t come alone: he drives his sleigh pulled by reindeer from house to house all night long. His most famous reindeer helper is Rudolph with the red nose. His red glowing nose lights the way for Santa Claus. Rudolph even has his own song that children sing with their families at Christmas time. Santa Claus has a lot to do this night. Nearly 74 million children in the U.S. look forward to receiving their gifts. With so much stress Santa Claus and his helpers are happy about a little refreshment. That’s why the kids put out milk and cookies for Santa and sugar cookies for the reindeer team.

Early bird gifts and turkeys

On 25. December, most children in the USA become early risers. A quick check to see if the cookies, milk and sugar lumps have been eaten and then it’s time to open the presents! The presents are given here in the morning. Small gifts like sweets and tangerines are hidden in the stockings and new game consoles, teddy bears and music players are under the Christmas tree.

And what’s on the table? Turkey, of course. We are finally at an American Christmas dinner. By the way, turkeys are the world’s largest chickens and are better known as turkeys in Germany.

Christmas in the shopping mall

Businessmen say that Christmas time in the USA is a season of its own. By this they mean that the stores sell the most during this time. After all, everyone wants the greatest gifts for their friends and family. That’s why "Black Friday" was introduced, a day when all stores open as early as 5 a.m.

Christmas markets like in Germany do not exist in the USA. Skating, marshmallows and strolling can also be done without a Christmas market: in large shopping centers, so-called "malls," there is usually a separate floor for children with skating rinks, children’s game machines and candy and pizza shops. It looks just like on TV: Everything is brightly colored, "Jingle Bells" can be heard from somewhere and everywhere looks Christmassy. On the streets, glittering Christmas parades with colorful floats, ribbon and candy cane decorations entice families to come watch.

Who has the most lights?

Americans understand Christmas decoration a little differently than we do in Germany: We decorate our Christmas tree and hang a few fairy lights in the windows. In the U.S., entire neighborhoods light up because the residents put so much effort into decorating their homes.

The entire house, the fence and even the trees in the garden are covered in fairy lights. The figures from the Christmas story are set up in the front yard as a nativity scene. It’s not unusual to see a life-size plastic Santa Claus with a team of reindeer looking down from his sleigh on the roof. Whoever has the most lights on their house and puts on the most lifelike Nativity scene can even win something. And of course snow is part of the real Christmas atmosphere. But if there’s no real snow because it’s way too warm like in California, for example, they decorate with fake snow.

Already knew?The "X" in X-Mas

In Greek, the word "Christ" begins with the letter "X". Jesus Christ, in the Bible story, died on 24. December came into the world, the day on which we celebrate Christmas. The "X" in the English word "Christmas" stands for the word "Christ" – that’s why they also say X-Mas. The American Christmas is marked by many influences from other countries and cultures. Santa Claus as a name for Santa Claus comes from the Dutch Sinter Klaas and the German Saint Nicholas.

Santa Claus got his red and white coat from an advertising campaign by the Coca Cola soft drink company in the 1930s. In the 16. Germans put up the first Christmas tree in America in the nineteenth century. Kids in America also get 2 weeks of Christmas vacation. The adults get but only on 25. December free. This is because Thanksgiving, or "Thanksgiving," is celebrated in November on a larger scale than Christmas.

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