Trends·Nov 29, 2023

Christmas Shopping & Gifts: The Ultimate Guide to Shopping from US

festive Christmas decorations, gift boxes, and symbols representing shopping in the US.Article updated on Nov 29, 2023

"Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry-making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving." - J.C. Penney

Christmas, a widely celebrated holiday with deep historical roots, holds immense significance both religiously and culturally. With origins tracing back to ancient pagan festivals and early Christian traditions, the holidays have evolved into a global phenomenon embraced by billions worldwide, transcending religious boundaries. The celebration now includes Christmas carols, decorating a Christmas tree, and more.

The magic of Christmas lies in its ability to foster joy, connection, and generosity among individuals from all walks of life. Regardless of their religious beliefs, people come together during the holidays to share stories, sing Christmas carols, decorate the Christmas tree, and celebrate the nativity. They create memories and spread love amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Join us on a journey through the history, traditions, and heartwarming tales that make the holidays an enchanting celebration cherished by millions around the globe. Experience the joy of the nativity, the beauty of carols, and the spirit of Christmas.

Tracing the Origins of Christmas

depicting various historical and cultural elements that have contributed to the modern celebration of the holiday

The roots of Christmas can be traced back to ancient civilizations and their winter solstice celebrations. These early societies, such as the Romans, Greeks, and Persians, marked the shortest day of the year with festivities to honor the return of longer days and the rebirth of nature.

Early Christians later adopted December 25th as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While there is no specific mention in the Bible about Jesus' exact birthdate, December 25th was chosen by church leaders in the 4th century. This decision coincided with existing pagan festivals held during this time, making it easier for people to transition from their traditional celebrations to Christian ones.

Many customs associated with Christmas have pagan origins that were incorporated into Christian traditions over time. For example, gift-giving has its roots in ancient Roman festivals like Saturnalia and Kalends. During the holidays and festive celebrations, people exchanged small gifts as a symbol of goodwill and prosperity for the coming year. The feast was accompanied by the beautiful sight of the decorated Christmas tree.

Decorating trees also has pagan origins. The practice can be traced back to ancient cultures like the Egyptians and Romans who adorned their homes with greenery during winter solstice celebrations. The evergreen tree became a symbol of life's continuity even during harsh winters.

Mistletoe is another popular Christmas tradition that has its roots in pagan beliefs. Druids considered mistletoe sacred and believed it had healing properties and brought good luck. It was often hung in homes as a symbol of peace and harmony during winter celebrations.

The Yule log is yet another custom with ancient origins. In Norse mythology, it was believed that burning a Yule log would bring good fortune for the coming year. As Christianity spread across Europe, this tradition merged with Christmas celebrations.

Caroling is an activity that dates back centuries ago when groups would go from house to house singing songs during various festive occasions including Christmas. This practice originated from wassailing, a medieval English tradition where people would sing and make noise to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck to the orchards for a bountiful harvest.

Christmas Around the World: Traditions and Customs

how people from around the world celebrate Christmas, showcasing a variety of traditions and customs from different countries.

Unique Customs in Different Countries

Different countries have their own unique customs for celebrating Christmas. For example, in Italy, they celebrate La Befana. La Befana is an old woman who brings gifts to children on the eve of Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 6th. Children hang stockings by the fireplace, hoping that La Befana will fill them with treats.

In Austria, there is a tradition called Krampusnacht. On December 5th, people dress up as Krampus, a horned creature who punishes naughty children. They roam the streets scaring people and even playfully swatting them with birch branches.

Las Posadas in Mexico

In Mexico, one of the most beloved traditions during Christmas is Las Posadas. This tradition reenacts Mary and Joseph's search for shelter before Jesus' birth. From December 16th to 24th, neighborhoods come together to recreate this journey by going from house to house singing carols and asking for lodging.

Each night, a different family hosts the procession and provides food and drinks for everyone involved. The celebration ends on Christmas Eve with a midnight Mass followed by fireworks and festive gatherings.

Kurisumasu in Japan

In Japan, Christmas is celebrated in a more secular manner known as Kurisumasu. While it is not recognized as a public holiday or religious celebration, many Japanese people still embrace the festive spirit.

On December 25th, Santa Claus (known as "Santa-san") brings gifts to children just like in other parts of the world. However, instead of leaving presents under a tree or hanging stockings by the fireplace, Japanese children often receive their gifts in shoes placed outside their bedrooms.

It's important to note that in Japan, New Year's Day holds more significance for the family than Christmas. It marks the beginning of oshogatsu, the most important holiday in the Japanese calendar.

Embracing Diversity

The traditions and customs surrounding Christmas vary greatly from country to country. These celebrations reflect the unique cultural and historical backgrounds of each nation. Exploring these diverse customs not only provides us with a deeper understanding of different cultures but also allows us to appreciate the rich tapestry of global festivities during this joyous season.

Whether it's La Befana in Italy, Krampusnacht in Austria, Las Posadas in Mexico, or Kurisumasu in Japan, each tradition adds its own special touch to the worldwide celebration of Christmas.

The Cultural Impact of Christmas Music and Literature

cultural impact of Christmas music and literature

Christmas is a time filled with joy, laughter, and the spirit of giving. It is a holiday that has been celebrated for centuries, and its cultural impact can be seen in various forms of art. From classic songs to beloved literature, Christmas music and literature have played a significant role in shaping our modern concept of the holiday season.

Classic Songs: Timeless Favorites

There are certain songs that have become timeless favorites. Take "Jingle Bells" for example - a cheerful tune that instantly brings to mind images of sleigh rides and snowy landscapes. This catchy song has been sung by generations of people around the world during the holiday season.

Another iconic Christmas song is "Silent Night." Its serene melody and heartfelt lyrics evoke feelings of peace and tranquility on this special day. The description of the song captures the essence of a calm and peaceful Christmas celebration. This beautiful hymn has been performed by countless artists over the years, reminding us of the true meaning behind Christmas.

These classic songs have become an integral part of our holiday traditions, filling our homes with festive cheer and creating lasting memories with loved ones.

Charles Dickens' Influence: Shaping Modern Christmas

In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote a novella called "A Christmas Carol," which would go on to play a significant role in shaping the modern concept of Christmas. The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter old man who undergoes a transformation after being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve.

"A Christmas Carol" highlights themes of redemption, compassion, and the importance of family during the holiday season. It reminds us that no matter how bleak life may seem, there is always hope for change and renewal.

Dickens' novella struck a chord with readers when it was first published and continues to resonate with audiences today. During Christmas, it is important to embrace the spirit of giving and kindness. This special time of year serves as a reminder to prioritize these values.

Beloved Holiday Movies

Christmas-themed movies have become a beloved tradition for many families. Films like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Home Alone" have captured the hearts of audiences around the world.

"It's a Wonderful Life" tells the story of George Bailey, a man who learns the true value of his life through the intervention of an angel. This heartwarming film reminds us to appreciate the little things and cherish our loved ones.

On the other hand, "Home Alone" is a hilarious and heartwarming comedy that follows young Kevin McCallister as he defends his home from burglars while his family is away for Christmas. This film has become a holiday classic, bringing laughter and joy to viewers of all ages.

Traditional Christmas Activities and Decor

traditional Christmas activities and decor, featuring a cozy living room setting adorned with festive decorations and a family enjoying the holiday season.

During Christmas, there are many traditional activities and decorations that bring joy and festive spirit to homes all around. The description of the holiday season is filled with joy and festive spirit. Let's explore some of these cherished traditions!

Decorating Homes with Lights, Ornaments, and Wreaths

One of the most beloved Christmas traditions is decorating homes with lights, ornaments, and wreaths. During Christmas, families come together to adorn their houses with twinkling lights that illuminate the darkness of winter nights. This Christmas tradition adds a festive touch to homes and creates a beautiful display for all to enjoy. The sight of colorful bulbs shining bright brings a sense of warmth and cheer to both young and old. In addition to lights, people hang beautiful ornaments on their Christmas trees, adding a touch of sparkle and nostalgia. Moreover, wreaths made from evergreen branches symbolize eternal life and are often displayed on doors as a welcoming gesture.

Building Gingerbread Houses and Hanging Stockings

Another delightful tradition is gathering as a family to build gingerbread houses. These edible creations are made from gingerbread cookies held together with icing and decorated with candies, chocolates, and other sweet treats. It's not only an opportunity for creativity but also a chance for families to bond over a fun activity.

Hanging stockings by the fireplace is a traditional Christmas custom. This custom is often associated with Christmas and involves hanging stockings as a way to celebrate the holiday. Children excitedly hang their stockings in hopes that Santa Claus will fill them with small gifts or treats while they sleep on Christmas Eve. It adds an element of anticipation and magic to the holiday season.

Caroling, Church Services, and Nativity Plays

Christmas carols hold a special place in our hearts during this time of year. Gathering together to sing these joyful songs brings communities closer as they celebrate the birth of Christ. Whether it's singing door-to-door or attending organized caroling events, the melodic tunes create an atmosphere filled with happiness and goodwill.

Attending church services is also an integral part of Christmas celebrations for many families. These services provide an opportunity for reflection on the true meaning behind the holiday – the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time for prayer, worship, and gratitude.

Participating in nativity plays is a cherished tradition that brings the story of the first Christmas to life. Children dress up as characters from the nativity scene, including Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and even the baby Jesus. These reenactments help children understand and appreciate the significance of this religious event.

Christmas shopping and gifting trends, showing a busy shopping street with festive decorations, shoppers carrying bags, and display windows showcasing popular gifts.

The holiday season is a crucial time for retailers as people engage in extensive shopping for gifts. It's a time when individuals express their love and appreciation for others through the act of gift-giving. This tradition has become deeply ingrained in the fabric of Christmas celebrations.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are major shopping events that kick off the holiday shopping season. On Black Friday, which takes place the day after Thanksgiving, retailers offer significant discounts to attract customers to their stores. It has become synonymous with long lines, early morning doorbusters, and frenzied shoppers searching for the best deals.

Cyber Monday, on the other hand, focuses on online shopping. This event takes place on the Monday following Thanksgiving and offers consumers exclusive online deals. With the rise of e-commerce, Cyber Monday has gained popularity as an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.

Online Shopping Growth

Online shopping has seen significant growth during Christmas due to its convenience and wide selection. More and more people are opting to shop from the comfort of their own homes rather than braving crowded malls or stores. The ability to browse through countless products with just a few clicks has revolutionized how we approach gift-buying during this festive season.

Furthermore, online platforms provide access to a vast array of unique items that may not be readily available in local stores. From personalized gifts to niche products, online retailers have expanded our options.

Trends often emerge each year based on popular culture or technological advancements. For example, tech gadgets such as smartphones or gaming consoles tend to be highly sought-after gifts during Christmas seasons where new releases hit the market.

In recent years, experiences have also gained traction as meaningful gifts. Rather than material possessions, people are opting for tickets to concerts, travel vouchers, or spa retreats. This shift reflects a desire for creating lasting memories and shared experiences with loved ones.

Spending Habits

Christmas is undoubtedly a time of increased spending. According to studies, the average American consumer spends hundreds of dollars on gifts during the holiday season. From buying presents for family members to participating in office Secret Santa exchanges, the act of giving becomes an integral part of our December expenditure.

However, it's important to strike a balance between generosity and financial responsibility. Overspending can lead to post-holiday debt and financial stress. Planning ahead, setting budgets, and prioritizing meaningful gifts can help ensure that we enjoy the spirit of giving without compromising our financial well-being.

Controversies and Misconceptions about Christmas

images depicting creative interpretations of common misconceptions about Christmas, featuring scenes and symbols that are often misunderstood or misinterpreted in Christmas traditions.

Commercialization of Christmas

Some argue that the commercialization of Christmas detracts from its true meaning. The holiday has become heavily associated with shopping, gift-giving, and consumerism. Critics believe that this focus on material possessions takes away from the spiritual and religious significance of Christmas.

The emphasis on buying gifts and extravagant decorations can create pressure to spend money, leading to financial stress for many families. Some people feel overwhelmed by the expectations to participate in gift exchanges or host elaborate parties. This commercial aspect of Christmas can overshadow the values of love, generosity, and gratitude that are at the core of the holiday.

Symbols and Significance

There is ongoing debate regarding whether certain symbols associated with Christmas have religious or secular significance. One such symbol is the Christmas tree. While it has roots in pagan traditions, it has been adopted as a Christian symbol representing everlasting life through Jesus Christ. However, some argue that it has become more of a cultural icon rather than a strictly religious one.

Similarly, Santa Claus is often seen as a secular figure associated with gift-giving during Christmas. Although based on Saint Nicholas, a Christian saint known for his generosity towards children, Santa Claus has evolved into a beloved character embraced by people of various faiths or no religious affiliation at all.

These debates highlight how symbols can evolve over time and take on different meanings depending on individual perspectives.

Cultural Appropriation

Claims of cultural appropriation arise when non-Christian cultures adopt elements of the holiday. In an increasingly multicultural society, there are instances where people from diverse backgrounds embrace certain aspects of Christmas celebrations without necessarily subscribing to its religious origins.

For example, some may decorate their homes with lights or exchange gifts as part of their own cultural practices during the holiday season. Critics argue that this appropriation dilutes the significance and historical context behind these traditions.

However, others see these adaptations as opportunities for cultural exchange and unity. They believe that the Christmas holiday season provides a platform for people of different backgrounds to come together, share their customs, and celebrate the spirit of joy and goodwill.

Shopping from US stores

someone shopping online from US stores during Christmas.

Advantages of Shopping from US Stores

Shopping from US stores can offer several advantages. Firstly, many retailers in the United States provide a wide range of products, giving shoppers a vast selection to choose from. Whether you're looking for electronics, clothing, or toys, US stores often have an extensive inventory to cater to various needs and preferences.

Another advantage is the potential for finding great deals and discounts. Many US retailers offer sales throughout the year, including during the holiday season. These sales can be an excellent opportunity to save money on your purchases. Whether it's Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or other special promotions, you may come across significant discounts that make your shopping experience even more enjoyable.

Furthermore, shopping from US stores allows you access to brands that may not be available in your country. Some international brands have exclusive partnerships with American retailers or are based solely in the United States. By shopping directly from these stores, you can get your hands on unique products that might not be accessible elsewhere.

Sales and Deals at Retailers of US Stores

US retailers are known for their enticing sales and deals. During special events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many stores offer massive discounts on a wide range of products. These sales events often attract large crowds both online and in physical stores as people eagerly take advantage of the incredible savings available.

Some retailers provide ongoing promotions throughout the year. This could include seasonal clearance sales or limited-time offers on specific items. By keeping an eye out for these deals, you can snag items at discounted prices while ensuring you stay within your budget.

It's worth noting that while sales and deals can be exciting opportunities to save money, it's essential to approach them wisely. Before making a purchase during a sale event or taking advantage of a deal, consider doing some research beforehand. Compare prices for Christmas across different platforms to ensure you're getting the best possible value for your money.

Shipping to your doorstep with Forwardme

a package being prepared to be shipped internationally during Christmas

Forwardme is an exceptional service that can make your Christmas shopping experience even more exciting. With a range of beneficial services like Consolidation & Repacking, Cheap international shipping rates, and Personal Shopper service, Forwardme ensures that you receive your desired products hassle-free.

Consolidation & Repacking

Forwardme offers the convenience of consolidating multiple packages into a single shipment. This means that if you have made several purchases from different US stores, Forwardme will gather them all together and send them to you as one package. Not only does this save you money on shipping fees, but it also simplifies the delivery process during Christmas.

Forwardme provides repacking services to ensure that your items are securely packaged for international shipping, including during the Christmas season. They carefully inspect each item and repackage them using appropriate materials to protect against damage during transit.

Cheap International Shipping Rates

One of the most significant advantages of using Forwardme for international shipping is their affordable rates, especially during the Christmas season. They have partnerships with major shipping carriers, allowing them to negotiate competitive prices for their customers during Christmas. Whether you're purchasing small items or large gifts for loved ones, Forwardme offers cost-effective solutions for delivering your packages worldwide.

Personal Shopper Service

Forwardme's Personal Shopper service is here to assist you. Their team of experts will help locate and purchase Christmas items on your behalf. This service takes away the stress of searching for products yourself and ensures that you get exactly what you want without any hassle.

Many More Benefits

Apart from these key services, Forwardme offers various other benefits to enhance your shipping experience, especially during Christmas. They provide package consolidation photos so that you can verify the contents before they are shipped out. They offer package storage options if you need more time before forwarding your packages.

With their user-friendly interface and excellent customer support, Forwardme ensures a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for Christmas. They strive to provide fast and reliable shipping services, allowing you to receive your Christmas gifts in a timely manner.

And that's a wrap on our exploration of Christmas traditions, customs, controversies, and more! We've delved into the origins of Christmas, discovering how it has evolved over time and spread across the globe. From heartwarming traditions and festive decorations to the economic impact of shopping and gifting, we've covered it all. But remember, Christmas is not just about material things; it's about coming together with loved ones, showing kindness, and spreading joy.

As you celebrate this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Remember to cherish the time spent with family and friends, embrace the diversity of traditions around the world, and give back to those in need. Whether you're singing carols, exchanging gifts, or indulging in delicious feasts, let the spirit of Christmas guide you toward love, compassion, and gratitude.

Article written by

Tami M.

Tami M.
Tami gets excited about pretty much any new and challenging topic you put on her radar. That's how her current obsessions came into her life: namely yoga, growing exotic plants, marketing, and community building. The last two are what she's focused on at Prismic.More links