Christmas in the United States and Canada

Most of the celebrations in the United States which are associated  with Christmas were traditions brought by German and English  immigrants. Combined with the well-known and practiced tradition of a  brightly decorated Christmas tree, some other traditions brought by these immigrants contain Advent calendars, Christmas greeting cards,  gingerbread houses as well as gingerbread cookies.

United States
Christmas in the United States today can be seen as focused  around family, travel, shopping and decorations.
Family as well as travel go together during Christmas in the United States because family members usually have to travel fairly long distances to be with each other at one location. The growth of cities which have primarily economic activity, suburbs for residences, as well as the fact of different industries being found in certain geographic
locations, are among the reasons that family members often live great  distances from each other in separate states.

Christmas as well as its festivities therefore present a wonderful chance for many members of the family to gather in celebration and also  see each other in an intimate setting. The traveling involved makes the  Christmas season a busy time of the year for rail and air travel.  The occasion of seeing many family members at Christmas is also
linked to the activity of shopping that may be an important feature of  Christmas in the United States. The Christmas season officially begins  on the Friday after Thanksgiving, referred to as Black Friday and which now  ranks second in shopping for a single day to the Saturday before  Christmas.

United States
Most of the shopping that is done is to purchase presents for  friends and family. Gifts for family members are usually sold back  after dinner on Christmas day, when everyone gathers in the room with  the Christmas tree. Gifts are usually left at the base of the Christmas  tree in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  Gifts may also exchanged before Christmas at parties held by  friends and parties held at workplaces. Second to gifts, shopping is also done at Christmas for  decorations. While the Christmas tree may be the centerpiece of  attraction, garlands, wreaths, candles and decorative lighting placed  outside on lawns or along rooflines are also used to create a beautiful
holiday appearance for homes.
Canadians enjoy Christmas activities that are similar to those  celebrated in the United States. That is so because in the 1700s when  some German immigrants in the United States migrated to Canada, they  continued to practice many of the activities associated with Christmas.  The geographical proximity of the two countries also means they share  many things, so similarities in Christmas traditions wouldn’t be an  exception.
One thing that accounts for the difference between the two  countries however, is the Eskimo population in Canada. Eskimos in  Canada celebrate a festival during winter and have other traditions  that are absent from American Christmas celebrations.

United States
A practice also exists in Nova Scotia in which small groups of  masked individuals march around about two weeks before Christmas. These  masked groups attract attention by creating stir with much bell ringing  and engaging in a noisy caper in an aim to get candy, sweets and  goodies from onlookers.
This tradition bears some similarity to Jonkonoo celebrations in  the neighboring islands of the Caribbean. Those celebrations also  involve masked individuals, including some that appear on stilts that  make them as tall as trees. The parade of Jonkonoo regale onlookers  with various antics and present a minor scare to some children, who are
then calmed with candies and other treats. In Nova Scotia, onlookers can try to relaxed the noise as well as rowdiness  just a little when they can correctly guess the identity of the masked  person. A proper guess puts an end to the noise as the mask is  removed, disclosing the individual. For their part, maskers also play  nice by friendly nudging solutions from children about whether they have  been naughty or nice and handing out candies and also treats accordingly.