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The Surprising Similarities and Differences Between Christmas and New Year’s in the US and Chile

After living in the US we learned some unique and exciting traditions for Christmas and New Year that are different from Chile. 

One of the most noticeable differences is the weather. While Chile is in the southern hemisphere and has summer during December and January, the US is in the northern hemisphere and has winter. This means that you can experience snow, ice, and cold temperatures in many parts of the US, while Chile has sunny days, warm beaches, and outdoor activities. 

Another difference is the way people decorate their homes and streets. In Chile, you can see colorful lights, nativity scenes, and poinsettias everywhere. In the US, you can also see lights, but they are often more elaborate and creative. Some people even synchronize their lights with music and create amazing shows. You can also see inflatable figures, wreaths, candles, and mistletoe. One of the most popular decorations in both countries is the Christmas tree. While in Chile it is usually an artificial tree, in many households in the US they buy real pine trees that people adorn with ornaments, tinsel, and a star or an angel on top. Some people also have a tradition of hiding a pickle ornament in their tree and whoever finds it gets a prize.

A very fun tradition in the USA is the elf on the shelf. This is a small toy elf that parents hide in different places every night for their children to find in the morning. The elf is supposed to watch over the children and report their behavior to Santa Claus. The children are not allowed to touch the elf or it will lose its magic. The elf also does funny things like making snow angels with flour, writing messages with candy, or wearing silly costumes.

Another difference is the way people dress for the holidays. In Chile, people usually wear casual or formal clothes depending on the occasion. In the US, people like to wear ugly sweaters, which are sweaters that have funny or ridiculous designs like reindeer, snowmen, or Santa Claus. Some people even have contests to see who has the ugliest sweater. Another thing that some people wear in the US are matching pajamas for the whole family for opening presents the next morning. In Chile we just cannot wait and we open presents on Christmas Eve at midnight after having a big dinner with family and friends.

In the US, presents are either under the tree or in stockings which are long socks that children leave out on Christmas Eve so that it can be filled with presents.

Another similarity is that they both have special foods and drinks for the holidays. In Chile, some of the typical dishes are turkey, roast beef, pork loin, salads, rice, potatoes, and fruit cake. Some of the typical drinks are cola de mono, which is a drink made with milk, coffee, sugar, and liquor; and chicha de manzana, which is a fermented apple cider. In the US, some of the typical dishes are turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pies, cookies, and candy canes. Some of the typical drinks are eggnog, which is a drink made with milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and spices; and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

One of the most fun traditions in both countries is caroling. This is when people go from house to house singing Christmas songs and spreading joy. In Chile, some of the most popular songs are "Noche de Paz", "Los Peces en el Río", "Mi Burrito Sabanero", and "El Tamborilero". In the USA, some of the most popular songs are "Jingle Bells", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", and "Silent Night".

One of the biggest differences between Chile and the US is how they celebrate New Year's Eve. In Chile, people usually have a big party with their family and friends until dawn. They also have some superstitions and rituals to attract good luck for the next year. For example, some people wear yellow underwear for happiness; eat 12 grapes at midnight for 12 wishes; eat lentils or put money in their palms for prosperity; or run around the block with a suitcase for travel. In addition to fireworks and a champagne toast at midnight.

In contrast; in the US people usually have a smaller party with their family or friends or go to a public event like a concert or a ball drop. They also watch the countdown on TV and kiss someone at midnight for love. They don't have many superstitions or rituals, but some people make resolutions for the next year, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or saving money. Once we went to a New Year’s party and at 12.30 am the place was empty! They hugged and went home when we thought the party was just starting.

As you can see, Chile and the US have many differences and similarities when it comes to celebrating the holidays. Both countries have their own charm and traditions that make them special and enjoyable. Whether you prefer one or the other, or a mix of both, we hope you had a wonderful time and a happy new year!


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