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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Christmas Traditions in the USA Part 1

We love to spend Christmas in the USA, and particularly in our beautiful villa in Orlando. Christmas is a very popular holiday season all across America, not least in Florida. With its numerous cultures, all of which had their own traditions, there area a variety of different ways of celebrating Christmas all over the USA.

Many of the earliest settlers came from Europe, and with them came numerous traditions. Those who settled in the south would send Christmas greetings to their distant neighbours by setting off fireworks and shooting firearms. This tradition is still in place in Hawaii, where Christmas dinner is usually eaten outdoors. Father Christmas arrives here by boat, and the Christmas Tree Ship brings Christmas fare to the island.

Polish Americans maintained the tradition of spreading hay on the floor of the kitchen and under the tablecloth. This was meant to remind them of the stable and the manger. They would also set the table with two extra places, just in case Mary and the Christ Child should knock at the door looking for shelter. However, in Colorado a huge star is placed on the mountain which can be seen for miles around. In Pennsylvania, too, a star is lit in early December.

In Arizona, a Mexican tradition called Las Posadas is followed in which families play out the part of Mary and Joseph who are looking for somewhere to stay. They join their neighbours in a procession round each other’s houses, where they stop to admire each family’s Nativity crib. Lighted candles are placed in paper bags filled with sand in parts of New Mexico. These are put on rooftops and lining the streets to light the way for the Christ Child.

Santa Claus actually has two homes in the United States, in Torrington, Connecticut, where he and his helpers distribute presents, and in Wilmington, New York where a village for Father Christmas and his reindeer can be found.

Florida, of course, has its own traditions. Whilst you are more likely to see sunshine than snow, there is a little post office located near the historic Fort Christmas where people come from far and wide to have their Christmas cards postmarked ‘Christmas, Florida. ’ Fort Christmas is located about 20 miles east of Orlando on Highway 50, and the park and museum can be found a few miles north of Highway 50 at 1300 Fort Christmas Rd. Be prepared to have to wait in a long queue to get your cards stamped! In the first weekend in December a special ‘Cracker Christmas’ is also celebrated at Fort Christmas, and here you will find homemade crafts, exhibits, pioneer demonstrations and a BBQ.

More traditions in Part 2 Rita Fraser

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Page added on: 10 January 2013
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