Is Christmas Day a Public Holiday in the US?
Christmas Day is a public holiday in the United States. All state schools and most businesses remain closed on this day. Public transit systems also shut down, and rarely can be seen running as per their daily schedule.
Christmas Celebrations in the US
As mentioned earlier, Christmas celebrations in the US generally entails decorated Christmas trees, gifts exchanged amongst dear ones, dinners and get-togethers. But as the festive season becomes more popular, non-Christians have also started taking part in the celebrations. Christmas Parties are quite common in the corporate world of the United States.
Moreover, people would organize similar elaborate parties at home and would name them Holiday Parties, thereby, including the celebrations of other religions and beliefs along with the commemoration of Christmas. The Catholic traditions include exchanging gifts with your family and friends, decorating the Christmas tree and your home, going on a ride around your block to look at the beautiful lightings, Christmas dinner, and more. However, with the changing time, Christmas in the US have also incorporated a few bizarre and yet well-loved traditions. Let us take a look at a few of these.
NORAD Santa Tracker
One misdialed phone call from a child years ago has today turned into an annual tradition by the North American Aerospace Defense Command of tracking the sleigh of Santa Claus on Christmas and Christmas Eve. The first recorded event was in 1948 when the US Air Force issued a statement on 24 December claiming that “early warning radar net to the north” had detected “one unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer, at 14,000 feet [4,300 meters], heading 180 degrees [sic].” This was not repeated for a long time, however.
In 1955, a newspaper ad printed in the Gazette claimed that children can reach Santa Claus personally on the number ME 2-6681. A child somehow misdialed and connected with the Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Harry Shoup, a Crew Commander on duty, answered the call. Various versions of the story are known today.
Some people say that Colonel gruffly replied to the child and no further calls came through. But, later the Colonel realized the public relations opportunity that his was and asked public affairs officer, Colonel Barney Oldfield, to send out a message to the press that CONAD was tracking Santa Claus’s sleigh. The original missive by Oldfield said, “CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the US against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas. [sic]”
In later years, Colonel Shoup claimed that he was never gruff with the child, and instead talked to him/her as if he was Santa himself. This st0ory was further modified later by him, and he said that the call came to the ‘red telephone’ in CONAD, which is, however, impossible. In any case, Shoup had no intention of repeating this event the next year.
Nevertheless, in 1956, Oldfield reported that the US press International and Associated Press were awaiting news from CONAD that they were again tracking Santa’s sleigh. Thus, an annual tradition was born. Eventually, NORAD took over this responsibility in 1958, and recently, a website was established.
The tracking on the site begins from 1 December, and CGI images of Santa moving across the world, flying above landmarks are included on the page. A large team of volunteers also handles phone calls and emails during this time, and even Former First Lady Michelle Obama participated in the program between 2009-2016.
Another fun tradition for the people is that of the selection of Secret Santa. This practice is enjoyed by children and adults alike. Many office places, schools, and universities organize a Secret Santa, where names are picked up at random and allotted to a colleague or classmate. The participants never know who their Secret Santa is, and Santa has to bring a gift for the person whose name they have on Christmas. This is a fun activity where the gift has to be suitable for the other person and disguised so that they do not know who brought their gift.
Often, the convention ends with everyone guessing who their Secret Santa was. As everything has started being online with time, numerous e-commerce sites have also created the opportunity for people to participate in Secret Santa events around the globe.
You can buy a gift and send it to someone. Alternatively, you can add your name to the Secret Santa list. Then, you select a gift size to mail, pay for the present, and the website will deliver it to someone from the list. Similarly, you will also receive a gift from a random stranger. This activity allows you to get in touch with people you never knew, making new friends across the world.
The Christmas Jumper or ugly Christmas sweater is a winter top, often knitted, with Christmas related designs on them. These jumpers were originally a gag gift and considered something to be embarrassing for the wearer due to their dull, old-fashioned, or comic patterns.
Although they fell out of favour in the 2000s, these ugly sweaters once again gained appeal in the 2010s. With time, charities have started annual Christmas Jumper Days or Ugly Sweater Days, and some corporations also organize Ugly Christmas Sweater parties. The funds raised through these go to the needy for their Christmas celebrations.
Christmas Day Observances
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1. What time does the Norad Santa Tracker start?
The NORAD Santa tracker website begins the tracking from 1 December. Apart from this, one can also actively begin tracking Santa on 24 December, at 4 am, ET or call the project’s volunteer helpline at 1-877-HI-NORAD.
2. When did America start celebrating Christmas?
Until the mid-1800s, and during Reformation, partying and merry-making was considered to be unchristian. As foreign settlers continued to arrive in the colonies and people brought their traditions with them, Christmas celebration started becoming widespread from 1840.
3. How did Christmas originate in America?
The custom of putting up an evergreen tree in their homeless and decorating it with lights, sweets, and toys during Yule or winter solstice was brought to America by the German immigrants. This created the tradition of the Christmas tree and that of exchanging gifts on Christmas Day in the US.
Christmas Day Celebrations in Other Countries
- Christmas Day in Canada
- Christmas Day in the UK
- Christmas Day in Australia
- Christmas Day Celebrations Around the World
We Hope That This Article On Christmas 2019 In The US Was Enlightening For You! Thank You For Being A Part Of Time.AstroSage!!