Christmas Traditions in the US

image courtesy of Caitlinator

One of the things I absolutely love about the internet is how much diversity exists. I have chatted with people from all over the world including the US, Germany, the UK, Israel, Slovenia, and the Netherlands. Of course this doesn't include the wide variety of people I've met just by living in the US, people from Egypt, Vietnam, and Mexico to name a few. There are so many cultures and so many different ways of celebrating the holidays, even in the US. The following are just a few ways my family celebrates (or has celebrated in the past):


• Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving (or sometimes before), children go to the local malls to visit Santa Claus. They sit on his lap and tell him everything that they want for the holidays, have their picture taken, and go on their merry way. Some kids love this … and some kids hate it. It all depends on the temperament of the child.

• Just prior to Christmas, sugar cookies must be baked and decorated with icing and sprinkles. The more creative you are, the better. These cookies will be left out with a glass of milk (and carrots for the reindeer) on Christmas eve night. If Santa comes, he will eat the cookies; if he doesn't, the cookies will still be there on Christmas day. (Obviously Santa ALWAYS comes.)

• Interestingly, Justin's family always left out lobster for Santa on Christmas eve night. Apparently Santa occasionally gets tired of cookies. Who would have thought?

• Kids watch and listen for Santa Claus on Christmas eve night. They can follow the NORAD's tracking website or watch the news to find out where Santa is at any moment.

• If you are good, Santa will leave you presents under the tree. Sometimes they are wrapped, but sometimes they are not. If you are bad, Santa will leave you coal. Santa also fills stockings with candy and small toys which, in my family, were the first "presents" you were allowed to open.

• More recently, a trend called "Elf on the Shelf" has taken the US by storm. Children receive a Christmas elf (doll) and book sometime before Christmas. As the days of December go by, the elf moves around the house causing destruction and leaving notes from Santa. His main job is to watch the children in the household and inform Santa if they are misbehaving. The children are frequently (according to the book rules) not allowed to touch the elf or something terrible might happen.


• My family traditionally puts the Christmas tree up on the Saturday after Black Friday. In the past, when I was younger, Christmas presents from Black Friday shopping (typically clothing and gifts for others) would be wrapped and placed under the tree.

• Other decorations include wreaths, lights, mistletoe, garland, and bows.

• Traditionally, my family would get our first view of Christmas lights and decorations on the night of Thanksgiving. Christmas music would also begin playing on the radio.

• Some families go to locations where they can drive through and see Christmas lights. (In Georgia, this is predominantly the Lake Lanier and Callaway Gardens locations.) Over the years, the locations in Georgia have become more commercial featuring light displays from brands like Coca-Cola and Georgia Power. (They are not the most exciting light displays.)

• I've seen a number of traditions for Christmas over the years. My best friend from high school would always go out to dinner and a movie with her dad and brothers while her mom stayed home wrapping presents and cooking. (I wouldn't want to be the mom in that scenario!) My husband's family would attend Christmas eve service at the local church before also going to dinner and to see a movie (as a family). My dad's family, before I was born, would get together for lasagna, go to the Christmas eve candlelight service, come home and sleep until midnight and then my dad's mom would wake everyone up and have them all open their Christmas gifts! Then, after the explosion of excitement, everyone would go back to bed. As for me, the main tradition I got to experience was the family lasagna, Christmas eve service (occasionally, not every year) and opening two presents on Christmas eve (pajamas and a toy). This year we anticipate going out to eat with my parents and in-laws on Christmas eve without opening any gifts.


• Over the years what I've done for the holiday has changed dramatically. Rather than go through and explain it all, let me just say that the traditions I will follow are very close to what I've always done. We will begin the day having Christmas breakfast with my in-laws and family. Afterwards we will visit my extended family … then Justin's extended family, and hopefully end the day at Café Intermezzo. Or maybe we'll just go home and sleep. It's hard to say. :)

How do you celebrate Christmas? Do you anything special or specific? Is it different celebrating where you live in comparison to here?

** Day 17 of Blogmas 2014.

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