Christmas and Thanksgiving are the two most popular American holidays. As the United States is a country deeply rooted in Christian traditions, the fact that both of these American holidays hold a religious undertone should not come as a surprise. Moreover, Thanksgiving and Christmas are incidentally one month apart. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the U.S. holiday season, while Christmas marks the season’s end. In this article, I will discuss these two principal American holidays-their traditions and importance.
Christmas is the world’s most popular holiday; the United States is no exception. While it remains very much a religious holiday, the American Christmas has managed to detach itself somewhat from its religious roots and is gradually transforming into a consumer’s holiday. As a matter of fact, Christmas is the anchor of the year’s most important shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation, an average of over 70% of all U.S. consumers makes most of their non-essential purchases during the holiday season.
The most important Christmas tradition in the United States is the exchanging of gifts– the #1 motivation factor for holiday shopping. The exchanging is between parents and their offspring, siblings, spouses, and friends. The most popular gifts are electronics (for adults) and toys/video games (for kids). Christmas presents are to be placed under the Christmas tree and are forbid to be opened until Christmas Day morning.
As mentioned, Christmas in America remains a religious holiday. The birth of Jesus is celebrated with special masses and church services. Moreover, people are encouraged to take part in charity work such as feeding the poor and homeless, choir singing, and other meaningful activities.
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Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, America’s holiday. Christmas is celebrated around the globe, and each country in the world has its own Independence Day. Thanksgiving is the only American holiday that is created and celebrated by Americans.
Originally, Thanksgiving was meant to be a secular holiday established to celebrate the fall harvest and to give thanks to the generous hospitality of early American Indians. Over the years, however, the holiday has managed to mold itself into a semi-religious holiday. Thanksgiving has become a day of giving thanks to God (foremost) and to fellow men. One may find that it is a bit ironic that Christmas in America is becoming more secular, while Thanksgiving is becoming more religious. But this is exactly why America is such a fascinating country.
Thanksgiving week also happens to be the heaviest travel week of the year as people from around the country are returning home to be with friends and family. According to the AAA, roughly 40 million Americans travel each year on Thanksgiving week. Family is undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of Thanksgiving.