Saturday, December 12, 2009

We know why this special day is a holiday. We celebrate the anniver-sary of the birth of Jesus.

God Bless our military who are serving overseas protecting our cherished freedom.

In the United States, Christmas is observed on the 25th of December.

Here the festive season traditionally begins on the fourth Thursday in November, just after the Thanksgiving holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, a spectacular parade is taken out in New York City that has the smiling figure of Santa Claus participating in it. It indicates the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Department stores. shopping malls and small shops ready themselves appropriately for the season to attract shoppers and get them to spend quite a few bucks on Christmas trees, gifts, apparels, greeting cards and suchlike.

In the final days leading to December 25, small evergreen trees are seen to be established in every home and beautifully decorated with colored lights, tinsel, angels, stars and bright ornaments. The exterior of almost every house and the adjoining shrubbery is adorned with strands of electric lights. Strings of electric lights are used not only to adorn mantles and doorways, rafters, roof lines, and porch railings of individual homes but also of public/commercial buildings, departmental stores and even business hubs. Christmas trees are also seen to be set up in most of these places. It is often a pastime for the American people to drive or walk around neighborhoods in the Christmas evenings to see the lights displayed on and around other homes. Those with deep pockets are often found to place life-sized, illuminated Santas, reindeers and snowmen on their lawns and roofs. Many churches and private homes display illuminated Nativity Scenes commemorating the humble birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve is not an official holiday here. Hence most people have to work. However, many workplaces hold Christmas parties or celebrations, so there is a celebratory air to the day. For kids, it is a day of great joy since most schools and other educational establishments are usually closed. In the evening, most people add final touches to their home decorations. Many also set up the Christmas tree in their homes on this day. Many organizations and department stores are usually open for last minute Christmas shoppers, but may close earlier. Many people travel to visit family members or friends on Christmas Eve. Some people, especially Roman Catholics, attend a Midnight Mass service at church and participate in singing carols. Traditionally, the midnight mass starts at midnight, the point of transition from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Many Protestant churches also hold special services on Christmas Eve, complete with displays of beautiful manger scenes and candle-lit religious observances.

The Christmas dinner in the U.S. includes turkey or ham, potatoes and pie. Cakes are of course, a must for the occasion. This is a recipe I plan to make for my Christmas dinner:

Honey Glazed Ham
5-6 pounds fully cooked ham
1/4 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 cups honey
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham cut side down in a foil-lined roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern. Place the whole cloves in the scored intersections.

Combine corn syrup, cardamom, honey, butter, brown sugar, orange juice, and pepper in the top half of a double boiler, and heat until the butter melts and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally. Keep this glaze in the top of a double boiler, over hot water, while baking ham.

Brush glaze over ham, then cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees, basting ham every 10 to 15 minutes with the warm honey glaze. During the last 5 minutes of baking time, remove the foil and turn on broiler to caramelize the glaze. Watch the ham carefully during the broiling time! Remove ham from oven, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

At Christmas Eve gatherings adults drink eggnog, a drink made of cream, milk, sugar, beaten eggs and brandy or rum.

After dinner on Christmas Eve, children go to bed early but not before hanging up their stockings on the fireplace or the end of their bed to be filled with gifts and goodies by Santa Claus. On the following morning, children wake up to look for their desired items in their stockings and also find nicely wrapped presents under their Christmas tree.

Children wake up early on Christmas mornings to see the gifts that they got from their parents as well as from Santa Claus. They are exited to open up the new toys and sweets that they have received as presents. They also check the gifts in the stocking that they have hung near the fire place or near the Christmas tree. They dress in their best clothes brought for Christmas and then have a sumptuous Christmas breakfast on the Christmas morning. The breakfast on the special Christmas morning includes puddings, cakes and special cookies that are all home made and delicious.

On the Christmas morning the carol singers visit every house in the vicinity and sing melodious carols for all. The families come together to celebrate on Christmas mornings and have lunch or dinner together. The meals are really filing with a variety from, chicken, pork, beef, meat and wonderful desserts to feast on. Christmas mornings are one of the best times of the year for enjoying with your family and loved ones.