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The United States is known as the “Melting Pot”. No other month shows this more clearly than December with its blend of Christmas traditions from all over the world.


German immigrants are credited with introducing many of our Christmas traditions including the Christmas tree. In early America, Christmas trees were decorated with homemade items, fruit, cookies, candy, and candles. Store bought ornaments were rare until the late 1800s when F.W. Woolsworth discovered glass ornaments on a trip to Germany, which he then began importing and selling in his dime stores. Craft enthusiast still enjoy making their own ornaments. If you would like to try making homemade ornaments, then check out these books.



Santa Claus is a true product of the melting pot. He is a blend of the traditions of the English Father Christmas, the Dutch Sinterklaas, and the Byzantine Saint Nicholas. The popular American version originated from the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas,” better known as The Night Before Christmas, which has been attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. We owe our contemporary image of Santa to Coca-Cola's advertising campaign of the 1930s as well as Thomas Nast's iconic cartoons.



There is even a small town in Indiana named Santa Claus. Originally named Santa Fe, their application to establish a post office was rejected by the United States Postal Service because another Santa Fe, Indiana, already existed. There are many folk tales on how they arrived at the name Santa Claus, but history only records that in 1856, Santa Claus, Indiana, was officially recognized by the United States Post Office Department. Beginning in the 1920s, the number of letters sent to Santa Claus by children from all over the country began causing staffing and logistical problems, and in 1929 the postal service declared they would never authorize another Santa Claus Post Office.



Many churches and homes display a nativity scene, or crèche, during the month of December. This tradition can be traced to Saint Francis of Assisi who created the first one in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. In Mexico, the children anticipate the observance of Las Posadas during which a nativity scene is carried through village streets or families recreate Mary's and Joseph's pilgrimage to Bethlehem by going to different houses looking for “room in the inn” until they are welcomed. At the designated home, a party ensues where they break a piñata, have a meal, and receive small packages.

Explore these and more traditions with some of these titles.