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.
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
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
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
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.
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.