Christmas in the US is an unforgettable experience – as long as you don’t mind working on Boxing Day
If you’ve been residing in a land of denial, hoping Christmas will just pass you by this year, why not start thinking of it this way – this could very well be your last Christmas in the UK, if you finally decide to make the move to the US in 2017. That’s certainly cause for a glass of champagne or two! Christmas is a lovely family time, which we all secretly enjoy in our own way, even if the new Christmas pudding jumper your spouse bought you is doing very little to hide the fact you’ve indulged in one too many mince pies this December. Although Christmas is very similar in the USA, there are small differences that might take a little getting used to. To ensure you’re clued up and ready to rock (around the Christmas tree) come Christmas morning, let’s have a look at American Christmas traditions.
With dinner, you might be served sherry or wine, and at some stage you should expect to sample eggnog, which sounds far less appetising than the reality, a delicious creamy spiced drink – which works best with a little dash of whiskey if you ask us!
Time for Turkey?
First things first, let’s discuss the important bit – what will you be eating for Christmas dinner? Well, should you be a die hard lover of turkey and reel in offence at the mere suggestion of feasting on another bird – the good news is that you’ll be able to find turkey to eat on Christmas Day. However, given that Thanksgiving has only just passed (November 24th) and this is the holiday where Americans traditionally dine upon turkey, we recommend ordering your prize bird early to avoid disappointment. On Christmas Day, American families will often enjoy roast beef or roast ham. Don’t you worry, Americans are just as passionate about the trimmings as you are – expect stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, and roasted vegetables. If you want Bisto gravy or bread sauce – you may have to request it from the UK. Likewise, when it comes to dessert, you are likely to find it tricky to locate Christmas pudding, mince pies or Christmas cake (unless you knock one up yourself), but this just means you get to enjoy Christmas dessert USA-style! Why not try a Christmas pie? Pumpkin, pecan, and sweet potato are particularly popular.
Drinks-wise, it’s not unusual to start the day with some bubbles, perhaps a glass of champagne or a buck’s fizz. With dinner, you might be served sherry or wine, and at some stage you should expect to sample eggnog, which sounds far less appetising than the reality, a delicious creamy spiced drink – which works best with a little dash of whiskey if you ask us!
If Christmas is your favourite holiday and you just can’t bear the idea of not getting to enjoy all of your Christmas rituals then you must stop worrying right away – if anything the Americans take Christmas one step further than we do in the UK! I just arrived back from Portland, Oregon, and whilst there I was lucky enough to ride in five taxis decorated like reindeer – Americans just love the holidays!
If you’re moving with kids, American Santa Claus typically has a taste for milk and cookies, but hey – we’ll leave that decision up to you!
As Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together, many families like to carry on the festive spirit by getting their Christmas tree up nice and early. You won’t struggle to find a tree – just pop down to your local hardware store, perhaps a Lowe’s and you’ll have a tree picked out and attached to your roof in no time. It seems that the majority of families do open up their presents on Christmas Day, although this can vary family-to-family based on individual traditions. Some families choose to get together on Christmas Eve instead. If you’re moving with kids, American Santa Claus typically has a taste for milk and cookies, but hey – we’ll leave that decision up to you!
If you attend church, you can expect to find special Christmas services taking place on the Sunday before Christmas or Midnight Mass held on Christmas Eve. Nativity plays are also commonly performed at your children’s schools, or in your local community. You might find that many of your new neighbours don’t celebrate Christmas, due to their respective religions – in which case, it’s still okay to send them a Christmas card, but perhaps select one that reads “Happy holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”. Expect performances of The Nutcracker, places to take your children to meet Santa, festive choirs, and radio stations and TV channels playing exclusively Christmas content.
Sadly, one typically British aspect of Christmas that hasn’t made it across the pond is the Christmas cracker, which seems a shame but is certainly not a deal breaker. There are another couple of subtle differences that you might as well know now. Firstly, Americans don’t care about what hit song is Christmas No1. It’s just not viewed as a big deal in the US. Secondly, you won’t be able to find a pantomime anywhere – in fact, many Americans might not even know what a pantomime is. Have fun explaining!
I apologies for ending on a down note – but it’s important you understand that in the USA, Boxing Day does not exist. The day where us Brits lounge around in our pyjamas, eating leftover turkey sandwiches, finishing off bottles of port, or braving blustery walks to blow away the cobwebs that come with being inside for a solid day or two – just doesn’t exist. In fact, many Americans go straight back to work. I know. It seems terrible, but with all of the Christmas spirit that’ll surround you wherever you relocate to in the USA, you might find yourself ready to be back at work too.
To chat through how to make 2017 the year that you finally make the move to the USA, contact our Resource Team on 020 7898 0549.
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