Okay, two fake posts, and then I'll put up a real post later tonight.
FIRST: a short presentation I wrote (and then gave in German) for an AFS meeting. For all of you in the US, it may be quite boring. It's basically just what you do every year.
Christmas in America.
Before we start, let’s get one thing straight. Mr. Santa Claus, the celebrity among celebrities around Christmas time, ISN’T EVEN AMERICAN.
He’s a poser. In fact, he’s not even real. He was invented by the Spaniards, right after the developed the California coast. San Louis Obisbo, San Fransisco, Santa Anna, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, BAM! Santa Claus. They couldn’t stop at making cities, they had to make a magic man that flies around the world and sits in chimneys, too.
Actually that’s not true. Mr. Claus actually originated a little closer to here- his legend stems from the story of the bishop Nikolaus, aus Turkei. But with a title like Santa, we need to extrapolate these things, you know? Anyway… Mr. Claus is the symbol of Christmas in America- his jolly face, button nose, fat belly, sack full of goodies, and his reindeer-driven sleigh are omnipresent come the Christmas season.
But we’ll get to that later. First, there are a few things you should know.
The US is more than 75% Christian. We also have Jewish people, though, so the Christmas season is never limited to just Christmas- for every couple Christmas trees, you have a menorah or two. Also, Christmas Caroling isn’t complete without the yearly rendition of “My Dreidel” or “Shalom Chaverim”. I’m pretty sure “Shalom Chaverim” isn’t a Hannukah song, but I’m not totally sure. Maybe it is.
Anyway, you know it’s Christmastime when the electricity bills start to rise. Not only do the heaters start coming on for the winter, but every house also puts a bajillion and fourty-four Christmas lights outside their house. Lining the gutter, draping the roof, along the walkway, in the massive stuffed reindeer out front- Lights, lights, lights!
You can also tell it’s Christmas time when people start putting up Christmas trees. Like here in El Deutschland, we have Christmas trees- usually pine, conical, and decorated with loverly ornaments, lights, popcorn, and topped with a star or angel.
Christmas starts with the day after Thanksgiving (okay, who am I kidding. It starts the day after 4th of July) and culminates on the 25th, Christmas Day. Usually, small children across the country unwrap their presents the morning of Christmas. Santa Claus, the aforemention fat chimney-raiding man, distributes these presents underneath the Christmas tree and in stockings, which are hung by the fire with care.
Oftentimes, families either go to the Christmas Vigil Mass, at midnight of Christmas Eve, or to a Christmas Mass the morning of Christmas. Afterall, Christmas originated as a celebration of Baby Jesus’ birth. Usually churches have nativity scenes set up during the advent season, and on Christmas the baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
While not widely observed, the official end of the Christmas season is Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas. Auf Deutsch, Epiphany heiBt Der Tag der Heilige Drei Konige, and it celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings to Jesus.
And to close up this presentation, I think it would be just fantastic if we could all sing a Christmas Carol or two together.
(Now we sing Jingle Bells)