Postcards and ugly sweaters: 8 interesting facts about celebrating Christmas in the USA
Happy holidays to you and your family! (“Happy holidays to you and your family!”) - this is how you can say hello, say goodbye and sign emails in the USA from Thanksgiving, that is, a month before Christmas.
Thanks to this, and also to many fairs, skating rinks, decoration lights in homes, offices and shopping centers, as well as the atmosphere of parties at work and festive melodies on the waves of the radio and in all stores, the feeling of a holiday in Washington is more than enough. And this is despite the fact that the first snow here, most often, barely falling, melts almost immediately, and most of the time it is damp and cool.
In addition to the sounding of the well-known Shchedryk song, the purchase of gifts for the family and Christmas tree decorations, the Americans also have other traditions that often do not exist in Ukraine.
1. Gifts for teachers, postmen and concierges
The tradition of expressing gratitude to small people for gifts, on the work of which our comfort to varying degrees depends: employees of beauty salons, gyms, nannies. At first, such a tradition seemed a little Soviet to me. But this is not entirely true: in the United States, of course, this does not necessarily and will not affect the quality of work of people who donate nothing.
Nevertheless, a gift card, an edible gift or a handmade souvenir will help maintain good friendships. Therefore, American media even compiled a list of professions whose representatives should give something. Among them: postmen, newspaper men, scavengers, cleaners, teachers, preschool teachers, babysitters, concierges, hairdressers, massage therapists, personal trainers, tennis or golf instructors, gardeners, plumbers, parkers.
Depending on the closeness of the relationship and the cost of the services of these people, they are advised to give gifts in the amount of 10 to 100 dollars - or in the form of a tip in the amount of the cost of one visit (for example, to a hairdresser, trainer or massage therapist). This is best done with gift cards that can be bought at any store or online service.
If you add these expenses to gifts to relatives and friends, holidays can cost a pretty penny. Therefore, many companies give employees Christmas bonuses. In 2017, 63% of private companies paid a one-time average of $ 1800 bonus.
2. Free Christmas trees
78 dollars - this was the average cost of a living Christmas tree in the United States last year. This may not be affordable for the poor. Therefore, many charitable organizations give out free Christmas trees for low-income or military families.
3. Trips to Disneyland or other amusement parks
Most Americans go to relatives on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Several generations gather under one roof at once.
But another type of family trips to amusement parks is also popular. Fans of thrills are ready to defend long lines for the most interesting attractions for hours.
4. Ugly Christmas sweaters
For Christmas in the USA, it is customary to wear a special category of winter clothing - Ugly Christmas Sweater.
These are sweaters of red and green shades, with deers, snowflakes, elves, penguins, Santa and all that is enough for imagination. This trend originated in the 1980s and survived the times of wild popularity, then there were ridicule and contempt, but over time it got a second wind thanks to hipsters.
Now, young people hold theme parties Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties with contests for the “ugliest” work of knitted art.
5. Lush table
Overeating at the festive table is customary not only among Ukrainians. At Christmas, Americans, usually not too generous in treating guests at parties, feed their families and friends a great dinner.
Red and white peppermint candy canes, red velvet cakes, cupcakes, baked turkey, like Thanksgiving. And these are just true American Christmas dishes.
Tasty borrowings from around the world - even more. Mashed potatoes, which is actually from Britain, Chinese baked goose, English gingerbread cookies, little men, gingerbread houses, German stollen.
They are washed down with Scottish +++++++++++++++++++ (eggnog) - it’s like a mogul, only with milk or whipped cream. It can be alcoholic, like hot chocolate, where liquor or brandy is added. And at each party there will be German mulled wine (it is called mulled wine or Glühwein) or Indian punch (punch).
6. Early and diligent preparations
You have been feeling in the United States that Christmas is approaching since September, when you go to the supermarket in summer clothes and stumble upon several-meter Christmas trees at the entrance. Many remove pumpkins and cobwebs from houses the day after Halloween and immediately hang garlands. And after Thanksgiving in the windows of apartments and houses you can see Christmas trees in the lights.
Americans pre-purchase gifts, and the packaging business receives annual revenue. But those for whom prices “bite” buy wrapping paper, ribbons and wrap the boxes on their own. It seems that the ability to wrap a gift is one of the basic skills of Americans, without which it is impossible to survive in the country.
Once, at the request of a colleague, I sent a parcel. And when for five minutes I could not assemble and glue the cardboard box that they sell there unfolded, the postal workers and buyers looked at me as if they were a person from outside the civilized world.
7. Family photos with baby cat dogs
At Christmas, Americans love to make staged studio photos with their families. Often all are dressed in the same sweaters.
Those who do not have children are photographed with pets, often also dressed in Christmas sweaters.
It is these photos that Americans like to send to relatives, friends and acquaintances with the wishes of happy holidays.
8. Old school traditions
Such photo greetings and even plain paper cards remain extremely popular among residents of the United States. Every year, Americans buy 6,5 billion greeting cards a year for a total value of $ 7-8 billion.
On the subject: Real or artificial: which Christmas tree to choose
The most popular seasonal cards are Christmas ones, they are sold for as much as $ 1,6 billion. This tradition is gradually dying, but for millions of families signing cards and putting them on envelopes is still an integral symbol of the holiday.
Christmas is also a high time for mail thanks to the seasonal purchase of gifts “under the Christmas tree” in online stores. Such packages are delivered by mail, not couriers.
The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America".
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