December comes at you fast. There’s shopping, decorating, baking, attending holiday parties, sending Christmas cards, and more. With all of the activity, it may be tough to remember exactly what we’re all driving toward. Then comes Christmas Eve—a chance to bask in the company of family, slow down, and remember what we’ve been building up to all month.
Christmas Eve traditions in America are as diverse as our population itself. Many have been handed down from generation to generation. Some have roots in foreign countries, originating with family members who first immigrated to America. Others may be new traditions started by families living away from relatives. They may be offshoots of old familiar family themes or clever new ideas found on the Internet.
Though there are many ways to celebrate the evening, here are some of the most notable Christmas Eve traditions in America:
- Nochebuena – This Christmas Eve celebration is observed by Spanish-influenced cultures. It is celebrated by many people in this country due to the high Hispanic population. It often includes a traditional dinner of roasted pig. It may also include traditional regional foods such as tamales. It is believed that the tradition dates back to Caribbean colonists who hunted pigs for the pre-Christmas feast back in the 1400s.
- Cookies for Santa – Tradition goes that after putting the presents under the tree, Santa looks for his plate of cookies and glass of milk. Families can set out the cookies and milk in Santa’s honor before heading to bed, often accompanied by a handwritten note from one of the kids. In the morning, the children often find a return note from Santa and cookie crumbs.
- Kissing under the mistletoe – This tradition dates back thousands of years. Mistletoe was regarded for its healing properties, then later acquired romantic overtones during the time of the Celtic Druids. In Victorian times, the mistletoe was hung during the Christmas celebration. A man could kiss any woman standing beneath it. Women who refused the kiss were thought to inherit a streak of bad luck.
- Caroling – This neighborly tradition involves gathering family members or friends and going around the neighborhood to sing Christmas carols. Carolers can also spread holiday cheer with their music in nursing homes and hospitals.
Of course, a tradition that most cultures share on Christmas Eve is gift giving. There are many gifts to give, but one of the best is the gift of health. Consider purchasing your loved ones detox drinks for removing high levels of toxic buildup in the body. After the gluttony, indulgence, and stress that often accompany the holidays, the gift of detox cleansing will be a welcome one.