Christmas around Epcot’s World Showcase has looked different this year as there were limited Storytellers. My thirteen part adventure series took us around the World Showcase as we celebrated Christmas while looking back at the storytellers of years past. Today we end our series on visiting the traditions and customs around the United States.
Christmas Traditions at Epcot
One of my favorite traditions while visiting Epcot around the holidays is for me and my youngest daughter to visit each and every Storyteller’s event during our trip to Epcot.
As a Sociologist, who teaches and studies culture, it makes my heart so happy to be able to partake in learning and participating in the vast array of Christmas traditions that countries practice around the world.
Today’s article completes the 13 part series.
We have put in quite the traveling mileage and stamps on our passports during our adventures!
If you are just joining us now, there is still plenty of time to travel around the world and to learn about the many holiday customs and traditions from Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Germany, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, China, Norway, Mexico and Epcot.
Today, we end our adventures at the America Pavilion.
Christmas in America
As America is made up of so many rich and diverse cultures from throughout the world, many of the customs and traditions that are celebrated in the United States for Christmas are ones that we have learned throughout this series.
Many people would agree that the beginning of the holiday season begins the day after Thanksgiving.
One can hear Christmas music playing on the radio as well as in stores around the country. This is also a day that many families begin to decorate their homes and put up their Christmas trees.
In states on the East Coast such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, they have shops called “Christmas Shops” that only sell Christmas decorations and toys year round!
You can even find a year round Christmas store at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and at Disney Springs!
It is also customary to mail out and receive Christmas cards during the holiday season.
Christmas in America is filled with caroling, celebrating with friends and families and driving around to see Christmas lights in neighborhoods.
During the holidays, children write their Christmas lists to Santa Claus. It is tradition to leave out some milk and cookies on Christmas Eve.
In Hawaii, Santa is called Kanakaloka!
In 2005, little elves known as Elf on the Shelf made their way into homes during the holiday season. Story has it that they report back to Santa each night on the status of the kids being naughty or nice!
They also have a tendency to move around the home each night. Be careful – one must not touch them or they lose their Christmas magic!
Traditions Around America
As with other parts of the world, different customs and traditions are practiced differently throughout different states and counties within the United States.
For example, on New Year’s Day in Philadelphia there is a Mummer’s Day parade that lasts over six hours!
In Southwestern parts of the United States, many of the traditions derive from Latin America as they are so close to the Mexican border.
In southern Louisiana, on Christmas Eve, families in small communities along the Mississippi River light bonfires along the high river levee banks.
They are lighting the way for ‘Papa Noel’ (the name for Santa in French as Louisiana has a strong historical connection with France) for him to find his way to homes for gift giving.
Since the 1960’s when the first burning log aired on television, TV yule logs became quite the phenomenon. In fact, Netflix has caught on within the last couple of years as it now streams during the holidays.
Other streaming networks such as Disney+ and cable television channels have joined in on the fun!
Fun fact: the yule log virtual fireplace is scientifically proven to make your room feel warmer!
On December 19, Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization, lays out holiday wreaths on thousands of graves in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.
They also lay wreaths at 1,200 other locations across America. The event is to honor the soldiers that have been buried in military cemeteries.
Traditional Foods During the Holidays
Decorating gingerbread houses and baking cookies are also very popular in the United States during the holiday season.
Did you know that four out of five Americans (83%) typically bake cookies throughout the year. This increases to 93% during the holidays, with 61% baking three or more batches of cookies.
We sure love our baked goods during the holidays, don’t we?
A traditional drink that is mostly consumed here in the United States during the holiday season is eggnog.
Fun fact: In the 1790s, George Washington was the first U.S. President to serve eggnog. His recipe contained rum, whisky and sherry!
A traditional Christmas dinner may include turkey with stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and vegetables.
World Showcase – The America Pavilion
There are many wonderful ways to experience the holidays around the America Pavilion at Epcot.
Voices of Liberty “Dickens Carolers” at American Adventure Rotunda
The Voices of Liberty are an acapella group. The singers wear date specific costuming from the late 1700s to early 1800s.
They sing treasured historical songs from American history. The show is performed under the acoustically rotunda inside the American Adventure attraction.
The acoustics amplify the sound of their amazing voices. It is a show not to miss during your trip to Epcot.
During the holidays they perform Dickens carols. Thankfully, they are performing this year on the outdoor stage located outside of the American Adventure.
Visit With Santa and Mrs. Claus
Epcot is the only place that guests can visit with both Santa and Mrs. Claus!
The two make an appearance each year at the America Pavilion as part of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.
Lines to meet them both are usually very long! We are hoping they return next holiday season!
This is the experience that I will personally miss the most this year during the holiday season.
The Candlelight Processional is a dramatic reading of the birth of Jesus using a mass choir presenting traditional and contemporary Christmas songs accompanied by a full live orchestra.
To learn more about the history of the Candlelight Processional both at the Disneyland Resort and at Walt Disney World read HERE.
JOYFUL! A GOSPEL CELEBRATION OF THE SEASON
D’Vine Voices uniquely blends the soulful expressiveness of Gospel and Inspirational music with the sounds of Jazz, R&B, and urban music.
Their joyful voices touch, uplift, and inspire guests to celebrate throughout the holiday season! We look forward to hearing them next holiday season at the Fountain of Nations Stage.
Our Storyteller Adventure Comes To An End
And this is where our adventure series comes to an end!
Thank you so much for joining me for the thirteen fun filled adventures that we have had learning about the various customs and traditions that are practiced during the holidays from the countries located within the Epcot World Showcase.
I hope you were able to learn many new customs and traditions. I invite you to welcome some of them into your own homes during the holiday season!
Our family will be ringing in Christmas morning with our new tradition of opening Christmas crackers as we first learned when we visited the United Kingdom!
I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2021 New Year!
I hope that next year’s holiday season at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays will include our beloved Storytellers and festive entertainment!