Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic Traditions

Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic Traditions

Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic traditions. Christmas is a very endearing and long-awaited date for many people, especially for the smallest and the youngest in the house. Can you imagine what it would be like to spend Christmas in another country and learn more about their culture?

Today, we want to tell you about Christmas celebrations in the USA. You’re probably familiar with them after seeing them in many movies over the years. It’s houses with dream decorations, the parks in New York, the music flooding every corner, the snowmen, the shopping centres full of colour and light, the large family gatherings and the Christmas trees of unforgettable sizes.


Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic Traditions


The Most Typical Elements of a Traditional Christmas in the USA

  • When does Christmas start here?

Generally, it all starts just after Thanksgiving, that is, it would begin on the fourth Saturday of November. That’s when the great Christmas-themed parades take to the streets in the main cities of North America. One of the most famous ones is the one that takes place in New York.

Another event that marks the start of these festivities is the traditional lighting of the National Christmas Tree in the White House in Washington, an event which is attended by the current celebrities and where you can enjoy the performances of great artists.

  • A Real Christmas Tree

Here we are used to plastic Christmas trees, although they come in different colours, sizes and designs.

But, in the USA, one of the most awaited traditions for families is to go to the markets called Christmas Tree Farms to buy a real Christmas tree, load it in the car and decorate it at home in the company of all the family. They are large natural pines bred specifically for this time. It’s placed by either the fireplace or the window because this is where Santa Claus enters to leave the gifts.


Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic Traditions

  • Mistletoe

Legend has it that when two people meet under the mistletoe they have to kiss and take one of the fruits. This plant is attributed to the powers of fertility and reconciliation. There is no house, business or premise in the USA that doesn’t have its own mistletoe at the entrance.

  • Magical Christmas Decorations

The lights flood every corner, there isn’t a single house that doesn’t have lights of its own, the patios and facades look like something out of a fairy tale. Many prefer to place life-size Christmas figures outside, others even put snow machines in their gardens. It’s all about the imagination and Christmas spirit a family has.

  • Do you know Elf on the Shelf?

Children are the ones who enjoy this tradition the most. This elf appears everyday from the day the Christmas tree is put up and the elf’s mission is to tell Santa how the children are behaving the few days before the toys arrive.

Every morning the children have to look for the elf who mysteriously changes places every morning. He is a very mischievous elf, who gets himself into funny positions or into all sorts of trouble.

  • Dance to the beat of The Nutcracker

Another popular tradition is going to The Nutcracker ballet, which is performed in most theatres during Christmas. Seeing their posters around is synonymous with the fact that Christmas is among us. after watching the show, the children are given a nutcracker to hang on the tree.

  • The Candy Factory

If there is one word that describes Christmas, it’s sweet. And sweets are exactly what we want at all the Christmas parties and if you’re in the USA, there won’t be any shortage of them. Similarly, to here where we have nougat and polvorones in America they have gingerbread cookies, better known as Gingerbread men, eggnog and the famous red and white candy canes.


Christmas in the USA: Festival of Lights and Magic Traditions


  • Stockings in the Living Room

Stockings are hung from the chimneys for each member of the family and the little ones wake up to seeing them full of candy and presents from Santa Claus.

  • Christmas Carols

It’s very common in America to see choirs in the streets or even in shopping centres singing Christmas Carols, perhaps the best-known song being “Silent Night”.

  • Santa Claus

There isn’t much of an appearance from this good-natured man, with a white beard and dressed in red, who travels in a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer and distributes joy, gifts and hope throughout the world. In the USA he is called Santa Claus.


Although in all the countries that celebrate Christmas there are traditions that they have in common and some similarities, the truth is, that each one has its own peculiarities and all of them are worth learning about.

Traditions from the USA are very familiar to us because of how close their culture is to ours thanks to music and cinema but how great would it be to know about Christmas in America first-hand? Do you know about our language immersion programme in the USA? Would you like to spend a school-year abroad, specifically in North America, and come back speaking like a native with lots of personal experience? Visit our website and call us to find out more information.

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