Every day this week, we will be looking at the yuletide traditions of a different country. Today’s journey takes us to the grand old US of A, with a whole host of different customs and traditions to contend with.
Due to the different nationalities from which the current American citizens are descended, Christmas varies across the States. In Hawaii, for example, the practice of shooting firearms and setting off fireworks to send greetings to distant neighbours passed down by early European settlers is still in use. In Arizona, the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas, in which people form a procession and re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn, takes place. In Pennsylvania, those of Moravian descent, from a former land of the Czech Republic known as Moravia, build a landscape, known as Putz, under the Christmas tree, whilst those of German descent are given gifts by der Knecht Ruprecht, aka Belsnickel.
However, the majority of homes are still decorated with brightly lit trees, tinsel and other Yuletide decorations. The festivities begin on Christmas Eve with Midnight Mass. It is then continued the following morning with the opening of presents, left over by Santa Claus in his nightly visit, before the family sit down for a traditional Christmas dinner, usually consisting of roast turkey with vegetables served with cranberry sauce, plum pudding or pumpkin pie, nuts and fruit.