In the United States, unlike in Poland, Christmas customs are not cultivated on such a large scale. But it should be emphasized that they are present in the December Holiday culture in many regions of North America.
December Christmas Period
When talking about the holiday season in the USA, one should refer to Christians, because Christmas is not a special day for every American. Thus, in shops we can find decorations related to the Jewish religion, and next to Christmas trees in many cities there are menorahs . Due to the fact that we are not always aware of what religion the person we met professes, it's common to wish Happy Holidays.
Polish Customs in the State of Washington
Many Poles live in this region and have been cultivating Christmas in the Polish style for years. They always place a beautiful Christmas tree in the largest room of their house or apartment, under which there are gifts for their loved ones, with whom the Christmas Eve supper will be eaten. After consuming it, the custom of singing Christmas carols to the newborn Son of God is cultivated.
"I have lived in Washington for over forty years. In my house, as a custom, Christmas hay is placed under the white tablecloth, spread on the Christmas Eve table. Pulling straws from under the tablecloth, we observe whether the straw is straight or in a slightly condition, deriving a prediction for the next year. - interjects Mr. Jakub Berus.
And the People of Chicago...
"I think that the holiday season itself in terms of shopping frenzy does not differ much from the one we see in Poland." - adds Filip Łaszczyk. "First of all, everyone at this magical Christmas time wants to enjoy the best delicacies from the festive table. Everyone also wants to wear something new, something beautiful, which they may have dreamed of all year long. Therefore, the shopping frenzy is the time when we give free rein to our imagination to meet our expectations and desires in every respect. When it comes to decorating cities, we do not differ much from Polish cities and towns. Everyone puts more and more effort into ensuring that Christmas is visible in our beautiful old towns, parks, shopping malls, and above all in our homes and their surroundings. It is believed in this region that colorful decoration of houses, streets etc. will bring happiness and all joy to the days and years that follow. Christmas gifts are necessarily decorated with red ribbons, which symbolize love and respect for the person we want to give them to. We are not always able to express our feelings with words, but we can always do it through a red bow on a gift. There are a lot of Poles in Chicago, so it is not difficult to guess that Polish customs are in effect in many homes. For example, in my home, the oldest family member begins Christmas Eve by reading a passage from the Bible. Then he takes a white wafer arranged on hay, which he breaks with each participant of the Christmas Eve supper. The youngest member of the family sits by the window and looks for the first star, and then you can share the wafer and give your best wishes.
As we read in the American press, the most colorful Christmas can be observed in Florida. It is fabulously colorful here, although the climate is not always associated with the cold December time. Colorful socks with Christmas motifs must be hung on living room fireplaces, and plastic Santa Claus must decorate all windows. The tables at the Christmas Eve supper are not covered with a white tablecloth, but - naturally - a colorful one, the main decoration of which are spruce twigs with red ornaments. Fried carp is not always the main course of the Christmas Eve dinner. Rather, the people of this region prefer carp in jelly. At this time, promises are made to oneself or to the family for the next year, which of course must be fulfilled so that the person will never lose happiness.
In the State of Texas
There are, of course, traditional Christmas Eve suppers like we can encounter in Poland. However, the more and more frequent ones are those with bloody steaks and no wafer on the table. There are also often characteristic dishes with poppy seeds and white borscht on souerkraut. There is also no hay under the tablecloth and there is no rituals associated with, for example, singing Christmas carols. In some Catholic homes, the practice of going to church after eating Christmas Eve supper is cultivated. In American culture, the most important holiday is Christmas, which lasts only a day. It is a time off from work that is devoted exclusively to the family. On Christmas Eve, presents are placed under the Christmas tree for individual family members, but it is customary to open them on December 25. On the morning of that day, the children look for sweets on the colorful Christmas tree and they believe that the gifts were brought by Santa Claus riding a reindeer sleigh in the sky.
First of All, the Movies
Americans love to watch movies at this time, and they do so together with all family members. It even happens that for this purpose they travel many miles to do so with friends or distant relatives. When it comes to gifts, they must be of considerable value, because a less expensive gift may not delight its recipient, and the main point is that the time of December holidays should be a time of great happiness, regardless of your age.
Photos of the Basilica of St. Josafat in Milwaukee: Waldemar Biniecki.