Christmas celebration in the US

Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 15:38:44

(VOVworld) - Christmas is an occasion that has been celebrated across the world. People from the US particularly have developed their own Christmas traditions and observances, and these have changed greatly over time. So today we will talk to Charles Jensen, an English teacher from the US, to see how his family prepares for Christmas now and then.

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A living room decorated in colors of cream, pink, gold, and burgundy for Christmas. (Photo: jenniferhayslip.com).

Q: Hello Charles. It’s finally Christmas time. In some countries, people celebrate Christmas on December 24th while other countries celebrate the holiday on the 25th. Which is the exact date that people in the US celebrate Christmas?

A: In the US, we usually celebrate Christmas Eve on the 24th when families will have a big dinner. And on the 25th, they will wake up to open presents and usually eat again. Some families might celebrate Christmas Eve on another day but most families celebrate it on 24th and 25th. Some people go out but we usually gather with families and friends on the 24th. On the 25th, I wake up and open presents and spend the rest of the day driving around, dropping off presents to other people who aren’t my immediate family and saying “Merry Christmas!” to them. It’s like when you guys go “chúc Tết” here in Vietnam.

Q: What I love the most about Christmas is the very attractive decorations, like Christmas trees, lights, and so on. When does your family start decorating the house for Christmas?

A: Usually at the start of December, we start putting up Christmas lights. And about two or three weeks before Christmas, my family puts up a Christmas trees, a real one. The tree has nothing to do with the American custom. It actually originated from Germany. When the German King married an English queen, who I don’t really remember the name, the two countries’ customs met and created the tradition to have Christmas trees on the holiday.

Q: Real trees? Why not a plastic tree that you can reuse every year?

A: There are huge Christmas tree farms, both in California where my family used to live and in Idoha, where my family lives now. It actually ends up being better for the environment than the plastic trees that we would throw away every year. In the farm, they grow them and you can come and cut whichever tree you like. Then, the people at the tree farm will plant new ones. So they are constantly growing new trees every year.  

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In the US, there are huge Christmas tree farms where you can come and cut whichever tree you like. (Photo: dullstreefarm.com)

Q: I think the state of California is quite hot for growing trees that like the cold weather like Christmas trees…

A: Oh, the state of California is actually huge. It has desserts and mountain ranges with snow and skiing. So we just drive up to the mountains and there are Christmas tree farms.

Q: What do you put on the tree for Christmas then?

A: We have lights and ornaments. Some of the ornaments are hand-made by my mom; some were bought. We like ornaments from the movies like Star Wars, Superman and Batman. Those are the things I would love to put on the tree. Then we put a star, a big star, or an angel at the top of the tree depending on the family. And we put presents under the trees. My family also set up a toy train going around the tree.

Q: What about putting socks near the fireplace for presents?

A: Yeah, in the US we usually have fireplace at home and we will hang stockings by the fireplace to put presents in.

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Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white fur-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. (Photo: The Mirror)

Q: Did you believe in Santa Claus? Did you write him a letter to ask for presents?

A: When I was a kid, I usually wrote letters to Santa Claus a month before Christmas. Of course I believed in Santa, I still believe in Santa now.

Q: What kind of presents do you family members give each others for Christmas?

A: Nowadays, a lot of people got carried away with value or they try to impress people but my family usually tries to find something that we really need. So the price shouldn't be as important as quality and thoughts. For me, it was always awesome to receive toys as a kid.

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People all across America look forward to giving and receiving gifts wrapped in bright and glittery paper and ribbon. (Photo: time.com)

Q: Not too long ago, I saw people all around the world celebrate Thanksgiving. Are Thanksgiving and Christmas somehow related?

A: No they are really separated holidays. Thanksgiving is for thank the God making it safely to the US and Christmas is day when Jesus was born. It was more a religious holiday. A lot of people will go to church on Christmas morning. When I was in the US, I used to go to the church with my family on Christmas morning to pray and sing. The pastors told us the story of Christmas and how Jesus was born. That’s also why we have a star or and angle on the tree.

Q: Thank you so much for sharing with us about how your family celebrates Christmas. And guys, don’t forget to tune in to Culture Rendezvous next week to hear Charles continue his talk on the customs to celebrate New Year in his home country. This is Dieu Ha. Merry Christmas and good-bye for now!

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