In our grand nation, America, we have hundreds of variations of nationalities and cultures that make the Christmas Season even more unique and special. Here are a few of the cultures and how they have affected America’s Christmas holiday season!
Native-Americans’ Christmas culture did not start for them until the early Europeans arrived. They taught them about Christianity, gift-giving, and St. Nicholas.
The Traditionalist Indians believe in the Christian Star and the birth of the Star Person or Indian Spiritual Leader, Jesus. They believe Him to be the Red Man and, making everyday Christmas and praying for every meal, they are walking the Red Road. Their belief in the spirit of giving should not matter if it is Christmas or not but should be always.
On Christmas Eve after the conventional service is done, they would start playing their drums and break into dances near the altar. Clothed in customary dress with masks, animal skins, feathers, turquoise and real antler head dresses, they performed deer, turtle, eagle and buffalo dances while laying gifts at the manger. The chiefs of all the Nations are the wise men honoring His birth.
There are several Gaelic Christmas customs that lingered throughout the generations from the homeland. Many place a candle in the window to guide Mary and Joseph to their destination.
The Irish always attended Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Part of their dinner consisted of Barm Barck which is a rich dark nut bread. The visiting Seanache or story teller came to homes during the season and told stories while sitting cozily by the peat fireplace.
Both children and adults sat enraptured as the mystic stories of the Little People, fairies, elves and leprechauns. Sure enough, the good ol’ man would captivate all with stories of Santa Claus in heroic scenes.
Anxious to settle in their new homes and customs, Croatians acquired Christmas trees. Beside their hearth, stood a short small tree with walnuts and apples and ribbons of red, white and blue and a straw cross at the top.
On December 13, a member of the family, usually the father, visits the local grain elevators distributing delicious homemade strudel and fresh baked rolls. He fills up several cans with kernels of wheat. Family and friends take a small portion of the grain and plant it in a miniature bowl daily watering the seeds. The higher and greener the wheat grows before the Christmas Eve ceremony the more prosperous the year will be.
On Christmas Eve, “Badnjak,” members of the family scatter hay throughout the house as a remembrance that Christ was born in a manger. All would attend Midnight Mass which is very significant to their holiday traditions. They return to their homes and walk throughout the house blessing each room and singing to celebrate the birth.