The Advent season in the USA starts with Thanksgiving Day, the most important holiday of the year for Americans. On the fourth Thursday of November, families gather and eat a turkey. The community experience has its origins in the harvest festival and at the same time heralds the pre-Christmas period. But in the 21st century, puritanical modesty and moderation are forgotten – gluttony is the order of the day.

The big consumer frenzy starts just one day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday. In New York, the shop windows at the shopping temples Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are festively decorated. Especially in Manhattan, Christmas and shopping are synonymous. The gigantic twelve-ton Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue symbolizes the season of consumption. On the small ice rink in front of the glittering golden Prometheus statue, skaters circle, and golden angels at the fountain glitter in competition.

People across the country decorate their homes with fairy lights. In some suburbs, a competition breaks out as to which neighbor has installed the most light bulbs. There is still an abundance of energy in the States. Oversized reindeer flashing in bright colors also adorn front gardens and facades.

In Southern California, where no frost or snowfall is expected in December, people are dreaming of a white Christmas with the help of fake snow used in decorating – Hollywood salute.

If December 24 falls on a weekday, Americans go to work as normal, because the actual celebration of Christmas doesn’t begin until December 25. It is a custom for children to tie their socks to the fireplace the night before after sending their wishes to Santa Claus, Father Christmas. Legend has it that on the night of December 25, the red-nosed Rudolph and his eight fellow reindeer, who go by the names Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, will bring the gifts.

This American Christmas tale is based on the story “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by 19th-century New Yorker Clarke Moore. But hardly anyone knows today that the story of Rudolph and his heavily loaded sleigh team only became widely known through the advertising campaign of a department store 70 years ago.

In 1939, a draftsman created the then new character of the reindeer Rudolph for the children’s book by the Montgomery Ward department store chain. With his red glowing nose, he lights the way for Santa Claus through the dark winter night. With the Christmas catchy “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer” ten years later and the cartoon, the reindeer finally conquered the hearts of children – not only in the United States.

Before breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup on December 25th, it’s time to unwrap the presents under the Christmas tree. When it comes to the tree, the Americans lack a little devotion. It can also be a green plastic one with electric candles that is used every year. During the day, friends and relatives drop by, it’s relaxed.

Egg Nogg, a sweet mixed drink with lots of whiskey, is served as a welcome drink. Mostly a “turkey” is eaten. This is served with cranberries and a sweet potato cake for dessert. But unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas is limited to one day. A second public holiday does not officially exist; already on December 26, work is calling again.

Out of consideration for Americans who are of Jewish, Islamic, Hindu origin or belong to another religious community, for years Christmas greetings and good wishes for the coming year have been sent out more neutrally as “season’s greetings” rather than “Christmas greetings”. And in the land of abbreviations, the word “Christmas” has long since been reduced to “Xmas”.

For four servings

4 egg yolks 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 liter cold milk 150 ml bourbon whiskey Freshly grated nutmeg

Whisk together the maple syrup and egg yolks in a container, then top up with milk and whiskey. Finally add the grated nutmeg and put the finished Egg Nogg in a carafe with ice cubes and serve – Merry Christmas.