United States and Canada
In the United States and Canada, people decorate their homes with Christmas trees, wreaths, and ornaments. City streets sparkle with colored lights, and the sound of bells and Christmas carols fills the air.
During the weeks before Christmas, children write letters to Santa Claus and tell him what presents they would like to receive. Many department stores hire people to wear a Santa Claus costume and listen to children's requests. People share holiday greetings by sending Christmas cards to relatives and friends. Many companies give presents to their employees.
A Christmas tree is the main attraction in most homes. Relatives and friends may join in trimming the tree with lights, tinsel, and colorful ornaments. Presents are placed under the tree. Many young children believe the presents are brought by Santa Claus, who arrives on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Some youngsters hang up stockings so Santa can fill them with candy, fruit, and other small gifts. Families open their presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
In many parts of the United States and Canada, groups of carolers walk from house to house and sing Christmas songs. Some people give the singers money or small gifts or invite them in for a warm drink.
Many people attend church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Churches are decorated with evergreen branches, red poinsettias, and scenes of the Nativity. Churchgoers listen to readings from the Bible and join in singing Christmas carols.
A traditional Christmas dinner includes stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a variety of other dishes. Some families have ham or roast goose instead of turkey. Favorite desserts include mince pie or pumpkin pie, plum pudding, and fruitcake. Eggnog is a popular Christmas beverage in many homes.
In some parts of the United States and Canada, various ethnic groups observe Christmas customs of their ancestors. For example, Spanish traditions are popular in the Southwestern United States. Many families in the province of Quebec follow French customs. Some black Americans combine Christmas with Kwanzaa, an African American holiday. Kwanzaa lasts seven days, from December 26 through January 1. Each day, families light a candle symbolizing one of seven principles, including creativity, faith, and unity.
Australia and New Zealand
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemborg
United States and Canada
Recipes from Around the World