Merry Christmas


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North America


Most Alaskan Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th, just as people do in the continent of the US. Santa Claus may arrive for a pre-Christmas visit, but, food, gift giving, and decorations are like what you might see in Texas or Wisconsin.

The songs sang at each home include Aleut words Gristuusaaq suu'uq, or Christ is born. Everyone joins in the closing words, Mnogaya leta, or god grant you many years. At the end of the carols the host provides carolers with maple-frosted doughnuts, cookies, candy, piruk/, or fish pie, and sometimes smoked salmon.

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Christmas celebrations are quite similar in the variety to America.

In some provinces, a big winter festival, called Sinck tuck, is celebrated by the Eskimos, with dancing and a present-giving party.

In Labrador, turnips are saved from the summer harvest and are given to children, with a lighted candle pushed into a hollowed out hole.

In Nova Scotia, a country settled by Scottish highlanders, songs and carols brought from Britain two centuries ago are sung each Christmas morning.

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United States of America 

The USA is so multi-cultural that you will find many different ways of celebrating Christmas. A friend writes about Christmas meals, "Our family (Eastern European origin) favor turkey with trimmings. My grandparents and their relatives preferred keilbasi (Polish sausage), cabbage dishes, and soups. My husband's Italian family insisted on lasagna!"

Santa Claus was born in US in the 1860's he was named this as he had a white beard and a belly, so he was named Santa Claus as this was the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sintaklaas. Although the dutch had bought him with them in th 17t century, he did not become an important person at Christmas until the Novelist Washington Irving put him in a nvel that he wrote in 1809. This first Santa Claus was still known as St. Nicholas, he did smoke a pipe, and fly around in a wagon without any reindeer, but he did not have his red suit or live at the North Pole, he did however bring presents to children every year.

In 1863 He was given the name Santa Claus and bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh.

Now Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the United States, because of the variety of nationalities which have settled in it.

In Pennsylvania, the Moravians build a landscape, called a putz - under the Christmas tree, while in the same state the Germans are given gifts by Belsnickle, who taps them with his switch if they have misbehaved.

In the South, in the past, firearms were shot to greet distant neighbours on Christmas Day.

In Alaska, a star on a pole is taken from door to door, followed by Herod's Men, who try to capture the star. Colonial doorways are often decorated with pineapple, a symbol of hospitality.

In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree's lights.

In Boston, carol singing festivities are famous. The singers are accompanied by hand bells.

In New Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and with ribbons tied to its horns.

In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas is kept up. This is a ritual procession and play representing the search of Mary and Joseph for a room at the inn. Families play the parts and visit each other's houses enacting and re-enacting the drama and, at the same time, having a look at each family's crib.

In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship, a ship bringing a great load of Christmas fare. Santa Claus also arrives by boat.

In California, Santa Claus sweeps in on a surf board.

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In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.

In Mexico, paper mache sculptures called pinatas are filled with candy and coins and hung from the ceiling. Children then take turns hitting the pinata until it breaks, sending a shower of treats to the floor. Children race to gather as much of of the loot as they can.

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