The American Christmas Season, European Influence

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Mennonite-American

The Mennonites have strong convictions in Christianity takes a very beautiful spiritualistic stance with their customs during the holiday season. Christmas is very much a family time in celebrating the birth of Christ with their families.

Mennonites can be seen caroling at churches and hospitals and nursing homes. They take fresh baked cookies to inmates in local prisons and share their remarkable and miraculous spirit with those who are alone during the holidays.

Some Mennonites celebrate this special holiday in the best tradition with an annual Deutsche Weihnachten. This German Advent program and Christmas service has a beautiful candle light service, a meditation, Scripture readings, and traditional German carol singing. The entire service is conducted completely in German.

The ceremony closes with everyone softly singing Stille Nacht or Silent Night. Afterward, everyone is invited to a reception with German Christmas goodies and hot drinks.

German-American

German-Volga’s rich cultural diversity mixed of German and Russian blood brought many Christmas traditions celebrated in their homeland. From the extravagant decorations on the tree to the delicious food baked to serve on an icy Christmas morning, these Germans enjoyed the holiday with vim and vigor.

The Christmas tradition of the tree became firmly established with these German residents. The children would not see it brightly decorated until Christmas Eve. Usually they would have to leave the room with one parent while another brought in the tree. They embellished it with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, candles, and trinkets. Presents and toys were placed beneath, and the children would come back to view the magic of Christmasland in their very own home.

The next morning, the family and any visiting friends would feast. They served a hearty meal with their best turkey, side dishes and Christstollen, a long loaf of bread filled with nuts, raisins, and dried fruit.

Swedish-American

The Swedes introduced their enjoyable holiday traditions with the start of Christmas on December 13. On that day, the eldest daughter of the house would dress as Saint Lucia with a candle wreath on her head and serve other members of the family.

During the holiday revelry, parades of the honored saint would gather and sing Christmas Carols. Sometimes they dressed as Saint Lucia, elves and gingerbread men. They decorate their trees with straw figures, and Swedish and American flags.

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