Extravagant Christmas decorations, which you may have seen in holiday films, are actually popular in real life, not just in movies. Some homeowners even turn their homes into full-scale Christmas-themed light shows. Therefore, one of the modern New Year traditions in America is to visit such festively decorated areas. For example, the ordinary Dyker Heights district of Brooklyn has become, thanks to its residents, one of the symbols of Christmas and New Year’s New York. Once Lucy Spata marked the beginning of this tradition. She was the first person, who decorated her house for Christmas for the first time in 1983 (and her house is still one of the most famous in the quarter). Now professional decorators (whose services cost from three thousand dollars and more, depending on the scale of work and the imagination of the owners of houses) are working on these houses. If you spend the winter holidays in New York, then keep in mind that the most interesting and brightly decorated houses are on 11-13 Avenue between 82nd and 86th streets. However, if you come to Cincinnati, you can observe many other Christmas decorations, when driving a car, rent at Alamo CVG.
American Santa is more cheerful and frivolous compared to his ‘brothers’ from other countries. He, as a rule, appears in advertising, films and on television in various, sometimes completely disrespectful images, like “Santa for adults”. This is an exclusively American attitude to Santa Claus, since in the countries of Western and Eastern Europe, for example, he is a child wizard. Here, Santa sells anything – from drinks to cars – and is no longer of such a religious nature as in other countries. Therefore, it is no coincidence that in many American families, which do not celebrate Christmas, there is an annual tradition of photographing with Santa Claus. Not only adults and children can be present in the picture, but also pets – dogs, cats, even parrots and guinea pigs. If you also want to take a picture with Santa, keep in mind that most of them work only until Christmas.
Another American tradition is “Secret Santa”. It is a great way to please your family, friends and colleagues and not to go broke. “Secret Santa” or “Chris Kindle” is a New Year’s game, in which a group of people exchanges gifts anonymously. Usually, “Secret Santa” is played at work, in large families or with friends, as this is a great opportunity to limit the number and value of gifts.
The rules of “Secret Santa”:
- For each participant there should be a card of two equal parts.
- At the top we write, “You are number X”, and at the bottom, “You give a gift to number X”. The numbers on the halves must match. If the top says, “You are number 1”, then the bottom should be “You are giving a gift to number 1.”
- Put the sheets labels down and mix.
- We put them in one row, without turning, and cut each card in half.
- After that, swap the upper halves, moving them to the right or left, and glue the resulting cards.
- Now each participant can choose a card.
- If you are a moderator of a game, make a list, where everyone writes his name and the received number.
- Discuss the amount that everyone is willing to spend on gifts.
The anonymity of the exchange of gifts is guaranteed, since you have mixed the cards before you cut them. Moreover, the numbers at the top and at the bottom will not match, so no one will get his own number.
There is a popular children’s tradition – the search for the so-called “Elf on the shelf.” It is relatively new tradition and appeared thanks to the writer Carol Ebersold. In 2005, she published a book about the magic elf, who lives on a shelf and keeps track of children’s behavior. Every evening, when they fall asleep, the elf goes to Santa and tells about the way the child behaves.
Depending on the behavior of the child, Santa decides whether he or she will receive good gifts. Every morning, returning from Santa, the Elf is put to a new place – and when the child wakes up, he or she should look for it (the main problem for parents is not to forget to put the Elf on the new place). The elf quickly became popular – the children liked such a festive quest, and the parents appreciated the opportunity to correct the behavior of the children.
There is also an unusual tradition associated with pickles. In the 1880s, glass Christmas tree toys brought from Germany were sold in one chain of stores. Among them, there were toys in the shape of various fruits and vegetables, including a cucumber. The PR specialists of the store told the interested public that the cucumber on the Christmas tree is a very, very old German tradition and that the child, who finds this cucumber among other decorations on the holiday tree, receives an additional gift. Of course, there is no such tradition in Germany, but the Americans are very fond of it today.
Cracker with a surprise is a tradition that “arrived” in America from the UK. At the Christmas table, each guest gets such a cracker. After the process of blowing the cracker, you will find a little surprise inside. It is curious that in the British tradition, paper caps or crowns are placed inside the crackers. Practical Americans have decided that it is not enough, so they put everything in the cracker, from small toys, whistles and stickers to stationery and mini bottles of alcohol. Each of them also has a piece of paper with some kind of a holiday joke.
Winter holidays are a reason to exchange gifts, and in America, it is customary to do it on a grand scale. Moreover, despite technical progress, Americans, by tradition, exchange postcards. There are traditional postcards, but if you receive from your friends a greeting card with photos of their families, you are considered close friend of their family.