Weird Yuletide Tales Volume Two

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The fireplaces in many homes have been replaced by electric fireplaces , but the yule log has remained a tradition. Christmas stockings are hung on the mantelpiece for Santa Claus to fill with little gifts "stocking stuffers". It is tradition throughout the United States for children to leave a glass of milk and plate of Christmas cookies for Santa Claus nearby.

Presents the family will exchange are wrapped and placed near the tree, including presents to be given to pets. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings and occasionally guests from out of town are entertained in the home or else visited. Wrapped presents are most commonly opened on the morning of Christmas Day; however, some families choose to open all or some of their presents on Christmas Eve, depending on evolving family traditions, logistics, and the age of the children involved; for example, adults might open their presents on Christmas Eve and minor children on Christmas morning, or everyone might open their gifts on Christmas morning.

Others follow the tradition of opening family-exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve night, followed by opening of the presents Santa brought on Christmas morning. Children are normally allowed to play with their new toys and games afterwards. The traditional Christmas dinner usually features either roasted turkey with stuffing sometimes called dressing , ham , or roast beef.

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Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce are served along with tonics and sherries. A variety of sweet pastry and egg nog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg are served in the United States.

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Certain dishes such as casseroles and desserts are prepared with a family recipe usually kept a secret [ citation needed ]. Sometimes, families also partake in a religious tradition, such as the consumption of a Christmas wafer in Christian families of European ancestry. Fruits, nuts, cheeses and chocolates are enjoyed as snacks.

Candlelight services are held earlier in the evening for families with children. A re-enactment of the Nativity of Jesus called a Nativity play is another tradition. Christmas-related tourist attractions, such as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and elaborate animated department store Christmas windows in New York City are heavily visited by tourists from all over the world. Christmas music can be heard in the background. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one whose annual carol singing is well-recognized.

Christmas symphony orchestra and choral presentation such as Handel's Messiah and performances of The Nutcracker ballet are attended. Local radio stations may temporarily switch format to play exclusively Christmas music, some going to an all-Christmas format as early as mid-October. News broadcasts and talk shows feature Christmas-themed segments, emphasizing fellowship and goodwill among neighbors.

Of particular note is the observance of Christmas for military families of soldiers and sailors serving abroad, on both sides of the Canada—U. The Los Angeles Lakers have made it a tradition, since they relocated from Minneapolis prior to the NBA season , to have a home game on Christmas. As of , the NBA now schedules five games on Christmas, usually including classic rivalry games as well as a rematch of the previous season's NBA Finals.

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Christmas for El Salvador still carries a strong meaning that brings families together. Despite the business on the streets and the red, green and white colors flooding the environment, Salvadoran people try to honor what they consider to be the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. In El Salvador children celebrate Christmas by playing with firecrackers , fountains, such as the small volcancitos "little volcanos" and sparklers, estrellitas "little stars". Teenagers and young adults display bigger fireworks or Roman Candles.

Families also have parties in which they dance and eat. Santa Claus is known for appearing in TV and print ads, but people ask children if they already wrote a letter to little baby Jesus. Traditional Salvadoran Christmas dishes are sauteed turkey sandwiches in a baguette with lettuce and radishes, Salvadoran Tamales , and sweet bread for dessert. Drinks include hot chocolate , pineapple juice, Salvadoran horchata , Cherry Salvadoran horchata, and coffee.

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On Christmas in Guatemala, people dress up in an ornamental hat, called a Puritina , and dance in a line. As with much of the country's culture, the celebration includes Spanish and Mayan elements. Christmas Day on December 25 is a national holiday in Brazil. Despite the warm tropical summer weather, some incongruences such as decorations with themes of winter and snow are not uncommon. In some cities like Guarapuava , there are decoration contests, when judges go to houses to look at the decorations, inside or outside of the house, and decide the most beautiful house.

Christmas Eve is the most important day. Unlike in the North American and Anglo-Saxon tradition, Christmas takes action mainly near midnight, usually with big family dinners, opening of gifts and the celebration of the "Missa do Galo" the rooster's mass in churches throughout the nation.

Many Brazilians decorate their homes with a Christmas Tree, there is no rule, the parents can decorate it by themselves as a surprise to the kids, or they can do it together. In addition to the Christmas tree, many families set up a Nativity scene as the main decoration. Nativity scenes are very popular in Brazil, and can be seen everywhere including churches and popular places around the town.

Like many other countries, Christmas dinner in Brazil is normally served late in the evening on Christmas Eve around 10 or 11 p. The meal often includes farofa stuffing, assortments of fruit, fried cod, and roast turkey with a dessert called " rabanada ". Along with their meals, Brazilians typically drink champagne, wine, and fruit punch. Typically after they eat, many Brazilians attend a Midnight Mass service or watch the Pope's television broadcast celebration of "Midnight Mass in Rome" with family and friends.

Christmas is a public holiday in Colombia and is primarily a religious celebration. In many cities, and even in small rural towns, neighborhoods get together and decorate their whole neighborhood or street, turning streets into virtual "tunnels of light. Activities such as musical events and firework displays are planned by cities and held during this time.

Individually launched fireworks were a common item during the Christmas season in Colombia, often going on at any time of the day in many cities. However, a recent ban has decreased the individual use of fireworks, and now only cities or towns are able to hold firework displays. December 16 is the first day of the Christmas Novena , a devotion consisting of prayer said on nine successive days, the last one held on Christmas Eve. The Novena is promoted by the Catholic Church as a staple of Christmas, and is very similar to the posadas celebrated in Mexico. It is a call for an understanding of the religious meaning of Christmas, and a way to counter the commercialism of the Christmas season.

Individual traditions concerning the Novena may vary, but most families set up a "pesebre" manger scene , sing religious Christmas carols called villancicos accompanied by tambourines, bells, and other simple percussion instruments, and read verses from the Bible as well as an interpretation which may change from year to year.

Novenas serve as beautiful religious gatherings as well as learning environments for young children since kids have a central and active role in the celebration of the Novenas they read prayers, sing, and play instruments guided by their family.

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  • From December 16 to 24, games called "aguinaldos" [65] are played after having made a "pinky promise" deciding the prize for the winner and the punishment for the loser. Churches offer dawn and nightly masses during the nine days of the novena, culminating with the Misa de Gallo Rooster's Mass on Christmas Eve at midnight. Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas in Colombia. Families and friends get together to pray the last Novena and wait until midnight to open the presents, parties are held until sunrise on Christmas Day , kids stay up late playing with their new presents, and fireworks fill the skies.

    Families gather around meals, music, and singing. Because Christmas Eve is the most important day, little occurs on December Families join Christmas Day mass although it is not nearly as festive as Christmas Eve.

    The day commemorates the innocent infants called the innocent ones who were said to have been killed by King Herod in fear of the power of the newborn baby, Jesus. January 6, the day of the Revelation of the Magi Epiphany , is called "Reyes Magos" from The Three Magi , used to be a day of gift giving, but is celebrated less now since gifts are given mostly around Christmas Eve today.

    Some families still give presents, and it is also the day when godparents give Christmas presents. In Venezuela, Christmas is celebrated as a religious occasion. The unofficial start of the Christmas festivities is after the celebrations of " Feria de la Chinita ", the second half of November. This event takes place in the Zulia Region, specifically in Maracaibo the regional capital. After this, other cities join in the festivities and many activities take place including musical events and firework displays. In many cities, small rural towns and neighborhoods get together for the "patinatas" night festivals where children go and play with skateboards, roller blades and bicycles.

    These events are usually sponsored by the local church, where neighbors organize themselves and sell typical Christmas food, hot chocolate, hallaca , cookies, etc. Also still in some neighborhoods there is the " Parranda " where people go from one house to house with music and Christmas songs. The singers stops at neighbors' houses to get some food and drinks. The presents are sent by Baby Jesus at midnight, and most people have a party, which goes on until sunrise.

    It is a carnival featuring parading bands in colorful costumes, singing, dancing, and decorations. Bahamian Christmas foods include black cake, imported apples, pepper pot, pickled onions and ham. Drinks like ginger-beer, sorrel, mauby, and sweet potato fly are served on Christmas.

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    Cuba had a long tradition of celebrating Christmas. Families used to gather at the dining table, and used to go to mass after dinner. The Communist Regime led by Fidel Castro abolished the paid Christmas holiday in , citing that workers were needed to continue the sugar harvest.