If you’re living in the United States, then Christmas traditions are something most people are familiar with when this merry season comes. The actual holiday is observed on December 25th, but many traditions take place as early as the day after Thanksgiving (in late November).
U.S. Christmas traditions and their meanings
Christmas traditions take on a life of their own. Some are particular to regions, some are family-specific, and others are culture-wide in observance. Below are some of the more common traditions and what they mean to those who celebrate them:
- Christmas tree – This tree is normally cut from a forest of live trees, brought to the home, and decorated once inside the house. It is a Christmas tradition symbolizing a time of rebirth and hopes for a fruitful next year as the evergreen trees chosen are thought to be an offering to harvest deities.
- Christmas gift giving – Stemming from the tales of a Saint Nicholas; gifts are often exchanged among family members and friends. This is to symbolize a time of caring, friendship, love, giving, and represent the gift-giving spirit of St. Nicholas (for those who believe in him).
- Hanging stockings – Needlepoint stockings are used to hang by chimneys and the footboards of people’s beds in their home. The meaning here is varied. Some believe Father Christmas dropped coins through a chimney and due to stockings being hung there, they were caught by the stockings. After that lore had spread, people hung stockings with a belief they’d invite good fortune.
- Cookies on a plate – This tradition is to symbolize an offering to St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, as he came to drop off presents to families. This Christmas tradition holds today to help encourage children to believe that Santa Claus will appreciate the cookies and bestow gifts upon the generous families.
Christmas decorating tips
Want to decorate like a professional during Christmas? Here are some great tips:
- Needlepoint stockings – Hang a few highly decorated and intricate stockings by the fireplace or in a hallway. These are often rich with Christmas cheer and soften any wall or mantelpiece.
- Hang garland – By hanging garland around banisters, railings, and even exterior decks and lampposts, you’ll invite a seamless decorating experience at your home. It extends the evergreen look of a Christmas tree across your entire home.
- Go home made – Be bold and hand craft your Christmas decorations. Where most people go wrong is believing every interior accent has to be purchased from a store. Try creating decorations with your family and friends to promote togetherness, new Christmas traditions, and a one-of-a-kind experience.