Christmas in the U.S.

Authored By:

Mara T.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year everybody!

My December revolved, as most of yours probably did too, around Christmas. It was an amazing and very exciting time for me because it was my first Christmas in a different country than Germany. 
This time of year means spending time with your family and doing all kinds of activities, so that is what we did. I was fortunate enough to be doing a lot of diferent Christmas activities. I watched some classic Christmas movies with my host family and friends that neither me, nor my host sister Grace had ever watched.
We did a cookie bake day at home and Grace and I were able to be part of a tradition that my host mom and her family have been doing for years: a big annual bake day. 
Through those two bake days I wasn't only able to try some typical American Christmas cookies, such as peanut butter blossoms or shortbread for the first time, but also share some traditional German cookies and baked Christmas goods, such as "Linter Torte" or "Zimtsterne", with my host family and friends. 
With the Dance Team, we had a Christmas party, where we played games, baked cookies, and did a Secret Santa, which was so much fun! 
With my host family, I went to the Christmas parade and tree lighting in our city, went to Christmas Lane (a street in our city where all the houses are decorated absolutely beautiful and festive), went on a Christmas light walk and to the biggest light show in the Midwest. All of those activities were absolutely amazing, but my two personal favourites were definitely seeing the Nutcracker Ballet in Milwaukee and going to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago. 
The performance of the Nutcracker was absolutely magical. Going to the Nutcracker is a tradition that my host parents do every year, but for me it was the first time ever to see a professional ballet. It was an absolutely magical experience! The whole stage, the outfits, the music, and of course the amazing performance of the dancers made the event a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. 
I was particularly excited for the Christkindlmarket in Chicago because the market claims to be the most authentic Christmas market outside of Europe. In Germany I love strolling around Christmas markets, and I definitely have to say, that the market in Chicago didn't disappoint. Even though it was done on a smaller scale than many of the markets I’ve been to, there were some authentic vendors from all over Europe, selling their goods and food from Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, and many more countries. Next to the Christkindmarket was Wrigley Field, the stadium home to the Chicago Cubs. We were able to walk on the field, for there were different winter activities people could do there. Visiting a part of Chicago and also being able to go on a Christmas market this year was a really great thing to do.

But of course the Christmas time revolves around one event: Christmas. To experience Christmas in the U.S. was so interesting, very special, and truly magical. 
The weirdest thing for me was to celebrate Christmas on December 25 instead of 24 as it is normal in Germany, but it was so much fun to learn how my host family unusually celebrates Christmas. 
On Christmas Eve, we had charcuterie and played games, which was extremely fun, but of course totally different from the Christmas Eve, that I usually have.  
On Christmas day, my host family and I unwrapped our packages and opened our stockings after we woke up. Then we called my family in Germany to wish them merry Christmas and to open the gifts that they sent us while they opened the gifts we sent them. 
I loved video chatting with them because it was a neat way to connect both of my families on the day that's meant to be celebrated with your family. 
In the evening, we went to my host mom’s dad’s house to have dinner and celebrate Christmas with the whole family. 
I'm so glad that I had the amazing opportunity to spend Christmas in the U.S. and learn about all the customs and traditions that come with this celebration here. 
Moreover, I love that I was able to give my friends and family in the U.S. a little insight into Germany's way of celebrating Christmas.

Right now, I'm really looking forward to experiencing the turn of the years here and celebrating the new year. 
Have a great 2023 you all!