Christmas Celebrations in United States
The United States of America is home of diverse cultures and traditions. Hence, the Christmas celebrations on 25th December in America are a mix of Polish, Irish, Austrian and Belgian traditions. Many of the Christmas holiday rituals vary from family to family and often depend on the cultural heritage of the family members. The differing climates of the United States also have an impact on the Christmas festivities. For some places Christmas is celebrated with a sparkling blanket of snow whereas others welcome it under bright sunshine. Therefore celebrations are peculiar to each region in the states. There are certain rituals that are common to all:

Thanksgiving Day

United States of America observes Christmas on the 25th of December. The festive season generally begins on the fourth Thursday of November, following the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. On this day, a spectacular procession with Santa Claus and dance troops takes place. Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the Christmas celebrations.

An Illuminated Affair

Houses are beautified with colored lights, tinsels, baubles, bright ornaments, ribbons etc. Electric lights are installed in homes, commercial buildings and the streets. Santa Claus, snowmen and reindeer are an important aspect of the festivities.

Celebrations

Christmas Eve is not an official holiday in America therefore celebrations and parties are hosted in offices. Educational institutions are closed so that children take part in the merriment and help their parents with the decoration work. The Roman Catholics attend midnight masses and participate in carols singing. Protestant churches organize special services displaying the famous manger scene. According to the tradition, children hang stockings before going to bed on Christmas Eve in expectations of Santa filling it with presents. 


Traditional Christmas Dinner

The traditional Christmas dinner in America includes turkey or ham, potatoes and pie. Cakes are a must for the occasion. The menu also comprises of Crostoli, baked bread, cookies, fried bread spiced with orange zest, Pfeffernüsse i.e a bread made with sweet spices and the Berlinerkranser i.e wreath-shaped cookie. Adults drink a concoction made of cream, milk, beaten eggs, sugar and wine. 


Festivities in Different Places:

In Hawaii, people greet their distant neighbors by launching fireworks across the sky. Santa comes on a boat instead of a sleigh and the Christmas dinner is relished in the open. In Alaska, a star is positioned on a pole and taken from one door to another with Herod s men vying to capture the star. The locals decorate their homes with pineapples which signify a symbol of hospitality.

In Washington D.C, the Pathway of Peace leading up to the National Christmas Tree at the White House is lighted every day from dusk until eleven at night. It is a tradition since 1923, representing the holiday spirit of the fifty states, five territories and District of Columbia.

San Antonio
shines during the holiday season, especially along the River Walk, where approximately 122,000 lights form a shimmering canopy. A huge number of people gather here annually for a one-hour parade along the walk. More than 185 schools, churches and civic groups usher in the season with carols beside the river walk.

In Las Vegas every casino along the strip tries to outshine its neighbors with lavish decorations. The Bellagio Fountains dance to the Christmas music and Fremont Street is decked out in multi-hued lights. One can head to the Winter Lights Festival at Springs Preserve, where an eight-acre garden is lit with millions of sparkling lights.

New Orleans, Louisiana celebrates a month-long festival celebrating Papa Noel. The city comes alive with lights, garishly decorated streetcars and Christmas carols. Other attractions are the antebellum homes, a special theatre performance, shopping along the French Quarter, a traditional lighting of a twelve foot menorah at Riverwalk as well as several New Years celebrations throughout the city.

Christmas Celebrations in New York

The mere thought of Christmas time in New York brings up images such as the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the double decor tour bus filled with Rockettes, window shopping at Macy s or Saks Fifth Avenue or taking a spin around the Rockefeller Center ice rink.

For a spectacular display of Christmas lights and music one can visit the Time Warner Center to see the fourteen feet stars hanging from the ceiling of the Great Room and a light show choreographed by the Orchestra from Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Some more sights to check out are the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum or give cross country skiing a shot in the Central Park. The zeal for the festival is such that even the chill in the air fails to dampen the holiday spirit of the New Yorkers.

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