In this continent-sized
country, Christmas is a time for children, a time when
Santa Claus comes down the chimney bringing gifts.
But across this patchwork of states, there are countless
regional variations. A fir tree might decorate living-rooms
throughout the north-east states, while in the south,
palm trees are dressed in their Christmas best, garlanded
with white lights in front of stores and along the
There is no typical Christmas menu.
Turkey was the centrepiece of Thanksgiving dinner some
weeks before; it now surrenders centre stage to a beautiful
roast of beef. First courses often incorporate smoked
salmon and there are numerous hors-d'oeuvre, while
dessert varies according to the region and the cook's
own specialties. Presentation is everything: there
are Christmas-tree and star-shaped moulds, garnishes
added to provide a splash of red and green, and so
At the White House, "President's Cake" is
served, made from a recipe that is over 200 years old.
a tradition that dates from Abraham Lincoln's time, and
which is found no where else.
Meanwhile, everywhere in the country
the lady of the house makes a big glass bowl of traditional
eggnog, a rich, thick drink flavoured with rum, and
sometimes spiced with cinnamon or nutmeg, and offered
in little glasses to every guest as a sign of hospitality.
In the lobbies of big hotels, eggnog is given a place
of honour on a white tablecloth near the illuminated
Christmas tree, providing a little warmth to the heart
of every guest.