The traditional Christmas tree that Americans decorate at Christmas time is a tradition that dates back to pre-Christian times. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of the lengthening of days (in the northern hemisphere). In pagan times, people from many cultures—Roman, Egyptian, Celtic—celebrated the promise of spring by decorating their houses with the boughs (branches) of evergreen trees. The green symbolized the promise of new life in spring. Mistletoe, wreaths and holly are common decorations at Christmas. Do you know what happens if two people stand under mistletoe??
The Christmas tree we think of today originated in Germany. German immigrants brought the tradition to the USA. However, not until the mid-1850’s were Christmas trees widely accepted as a symbol of the holidays. Americans usually have very big trees, and many families cut them from the forests. There are also Christmas tree farms where trees are raised specially for holiday decorations. In New York the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is one of the most famous trees in the USA. Every year 100’s of people gather to watch the lighting of the tree.
Did you know that the state of Oregon is the number one producer of Christmas trees in the entire United States? This is the tree at Rockefeller Center. Do you know where this tree is?
Contrary to what many people think, the tradition of Santa Claus is a very old one. The name Santa Claus comes from the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaas. Saint Nicholas was a monk in the third century who was known for his generosity. Over the years he became very popular and many legends were told of how he brought candies and toys to children at Christmas time. Dutch settlers in New York introduced their traditions to the USA, and today children all over America await the arrival of Santa the night of Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. He keeps track of which children are good and which are bad. Good children receive gifts in their stockings on Christmas Eve and bad children get coal. Kids around the USA prepare special holiday cookies like ginger bread and leave them by the chimney along with a glass of milk for Santa Claus. Santa’s Elves make all the toys for the boys and girls and on the night of Christmas Eve (24 th of December) he fills a sack with toys, loads it in his sleigh and flies around the world with his magical reindeer to deliver the toys. Santa comes down the chimney and leaves toys in the children’s stockings.
During the Christmas season, people often go from door to door singing Christmas carols. A “carol” normally refers to a song related to Christmas, the birth of Jesus, etc. and express joy and happiness! Do you know any Christmas carols?
For Christmas dinner, families gather together to eat turkey or ham (or both!), potatoes, rolls, green beans and salad. We also like to make gingerbread houses! These houses are made of candy, gingerbread cookies, frosting and other scrumptious delights.
At Christmas time in the USA it snows in most cities. Children do lots of different winter activities such as skating, sledding, building snowmen and snow forts and having snowball fights. What activities do you do at Christmas time?
<ul><li>Can you tell me if these statements are true or false? Can you remember the information to tell me the “true” answers? </li></ul><ul><li>Christmas songs are called Karens. </li></ul><ul><li>Singing Christmas songs is a tradition in the U.S.A. </li></ul><ul><li>In winter, children go to the beach, swim and build sandcastles. </li></ul><ul><li>The name Santa Claus comes from the Dutch tradition of Sinter Klaas. </li></ul><ul><li>Santa Claus is a modern tradition and has nothing to do with religion. </li></ul><ul><li>In pagan times, people had Christmas trees in their houses. </li></ul><ul><li>The evergreen branches symbolize new life in the coming spring. </li></ul><ul><li>Sledding means going downhill in the snow on a saucer, inner tube or sled. </li></ul><ul><li>Gingerbread is a traditional Christmas sweet. </li></ul><ul><li>The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is in Washington D.C. </li></ul>Merry Christmas to all!!!