American Traditions: 15+ Funny Words Related to Traditions in the USA

Grover Laughtonreviewed bySana Liashuk / more about Editorial Process10 min
Created: Feb 3, 2023Last updated: Mar 12, 2024
American Traditions

American traditions are one of the best ways to understand a country’s culture. Some of them we know from movies and TV shows, while others can be a bit weird for non-US citizens. But the one thing they have in common is the variety of useful words and expressions that can be helpful even in daily conversations. And that is our topic for today – let’s discuss American customs and find new terms to expand your vocabulary and simply have fun!

Popular holiday traditions in American culture

Americans know how to make the most out of every big holiday, whether it is Independence Day or Easter. Many holiday traditions appeared a long time ago, but there are also plenty of recent ones. Below, you will see a lot of common and unusual holiday customs in American culture. 

Christmas traditions

One of the most popular holidays in the USA is Christmas. Even people in foreign countries love it, thanks to legendary movies like Home Alone or The Miracle on 34th Street. It is mostly a family holiday, but there are a lot more traditions than just having dinner with relatives. Here are some exciting cultural tradition examples for Christmas. 

American Christmas traditions
  • Gifts to everyone! Even though gifts are an integral part of different holidays, Americans take this topic seriously. In addition to giving presents to family and friends, they also never forget to please their nannies, hairdressers, postmen, cashiers, and other people they know. It is the best way to show appreciation for one’s work and make one happy during the most wonderful time of the year. 
  • Free Christmas Trees and Food Banks. Christmas is a miracle time. Therefore, Americans like to do a lot of charity during this holiday. They donate to different organizations, help people in need, and do many good things. One example of this American tradition is giving free Christmas trees to families that can’t afford them. 
  • Ugly Christmas Sweaters. Do you remember how Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman pulled a prank on Ryan Reynolds? They made him believe that the party they were throwing had a dress code in the form of ugly sweaters. As a result, he was the only person who appeared in one. Even though Ryan was alone in his horrifying sweater, it is a common American tradition to wear the ugliest sweater to win a competition. 

These are only a few cultural traditions in America that we decided to add to this topic. Of course, there are many more of them. It includes house decoration (inside and outside, the more, the merrier), family photos, incredible Christmas dinner, and much more. 

To understand Americans during Christmas Dinner, you need to know plenty of words they use these days. Some of them, like a gift or Santa Claus, are already familiar to you, while others might be surprising and new. So, here is the list of traditional Christmas words to expand your vocabulary: 

  • Chrimbo – another word for Christmas. 
  • Chrismahanukwanzakah – a term for weekends that combines all major holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. 
  • Chipmunk gift – Christmas present that brings more joy to the one who gives it than the one who receives it. 
  • To deck the halls – to decorate the room. 
  • Christmassy – good holiday mood. 

These are the most popular words connected to Christmas traditions in America. But since there are many more amazing holidays, there are also numerous terms we want to tell you about. So without further ado, let’s jump into New Year traditions in America. 

New Year traditions

In some countries, New Year is a family holiday, like Christmas. But Americans prefer to spend family evenings during Chrismahanukwanzakah and then celebrate the start of the New Year with their friends, throw parties, and do other fun and exciting things. Here are some of the most popular USA traditions for New Year's Eve:

  • Midnight kiss. It is probably the most well-liked tradition that started years and years ago. Kissing at midnight is as important as the turkey on Thanksgiving – you can’t imagine the holiday without it. You can kiss your friends if you don’t have a couple, or your special someone – it is an excellent opportunity to share your feelings. 
  • New Year Resolutions. If you have been a fan of Bridget Jones and her diary, you know what the New Year's resolutions are. These are promises we give ourselves to implement in the coming year. It is a great way to realize our past mistakes, reflect on them, and find a better solution. 
  • Times Square Ball. This popular American tradition started over a hundred years ago, and it remains popular among both citizens and visitors of the Big Apple. On December 31st, at 23:59, Times Square Ball falls from the 23-meter height and symbolizes the arrival of the New Year when it reaches its lowest point. 
Times Square Ball

These are the most popular New Year customs traditions in America. And there are also many words related to them. Here are some of the terms and expressions you need to learn for the next New Year party with Americans.

  • Fireworks – holiday illumination you can see in the sky. 
  • Countdown – counting backward to indicate the remaining time before an event (e.g., New year).
  • Party favor – small souvenir or present for party guests. 
  • A glass of bubbly – a glass of champagne, a traditional New Year beverage.

These words and phrases greatly symbolize the New Year traditions in the United States. And now, let’s discover the exciting customs of another American holiday – Halloween. We know that you will like this one as much as we do. So please, make yourself comfortable, and we are going to start. 

Halloween traditions

We want to reassure you – everything you know about American Halloween from the movies is true. This scary and fascinating holiday consists of three main traditions. And we will tell you about them right now. 

  • Making jack-o’-lanterns. Creepy pumpkins are one of the most popular American customs and traditions. And making jack-o’-lanterns with your family and kids is an excellent way to celebrate Halloween and have fun. 
  • Wearing scary costumes. Another traditional Halloween activity is creating and wearing scary (or not) costumes. Preparation usually starts weeks before the holiday. After the clothes are ready, Americans wear them for parties or trick-or-treating. 
  • Trick-or-treats. This is one of the American cultural traditions popular among kids. Children dress up like ghosts, vampires, zombies, and other scary creatures and then go to the neighborhood to ask people for candies, sweets, and other goodies.

These are the three main Halloween traditions in America. Nowadays, it is hard to imagine this holiday without pumpkins, ghosts, and sweets. And now, let’s see the most common Halloween words connected with this spooky October day. 

  • All Hallows Eve – another way to say Halloween. 
  • Disguise – costume. 
  • Jack-o’-lantern – pumpkin lantern with a scary face with a candle inside. 
  • Grim Reaper – Death. 
  • Cobweb – Halloween decoration, a net made by spiders.
  • Bobbing for apples – traditional Halloween game. 

These were traditions connected with winter and autumn holidays. And now, it is time to talk about warm and fun spring and summer holidays. And the first one on our list is celebrated on July 4th. Let’s see what Americans prefer to do on National Independence Day.

The Fourth of July 

The celebration of Independence Day is one of the most important American traditions and customs. It started almost three hundred years ago and remains very significant today. There are not many traditions connected to this holiday, but still, there are a few worth your attention. 

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Fourth of July is parades. People in small and big cities march on the streets wearing national-flag-colored costumes, playing and listening to music, eating hot dogs, and having fun. And in the evening, all these people get together with their friends and family to see traditional Independence Day fireworks. 

Easter traditions

Easter is another important holiday, usually celebrated in the middle of the spring. And what are American traditions related to this ancient holiday? Of course, one of the most important customs is the Easter service. Since the holiday is celebrated on Sunday, all people go to the local church to praise Christ. 

Following that, another popular tradition – the Egg Hunt – starts. Kids and teenagers go find all the sweets Easter Bunny hides. At the same time, they begin The Egg Roll, throwing their eggs down the hill and making some kind of contest. There is even a White House Egg Roll Race when kids participate in the activity, and the current President of the US becomes a judge of the competition. 

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Fun and unusual American customs and traditions

In addition to the usual traditions familiar to us from the movies about this country, there are also plenty of weird and strange activities that no one (except Americans) knows about. And in this compilation, we will tell you about some of them. 

Baby showers

Traditional American baby showers are afternoon parties when friends and relatives bring gifts to their mother-to-be. Usually, there is no alcohol at such parties, so people eat snacks and appetizers, drink tea or coffee, and enjoy the company.

Turkey Pardoning

Another traditional Thanksgiving activity (opposite to the common family dinner) is National Presidential Turkey pardoning. And yes, it is exactly what you think it is. NTF (National Turkey Federation) brings Turkey to the current President, and they give their pardon to the poor bird. 

Super Bowl ads 

Watching commercials is boring, but not if you do it in the company of thousands of football fans. Super Bowl advertisements have become a real cultural phenomenon in the United States. Nowadays, people not only watch them, they wait for them and discuss recent commercials with their friends days after the Super Bowl. 

Tailgate Parties

The last American tradition in our list is also connected with football or other huge events. As you can guess from the name, it is parties people throw at the parking lots before the football match, concerts, etc. They take food and beverages and place them on the back of their vehicles. Such parties allow people to catch the right mood and have fun during the waiting time.

Learn everything about American cultural traditions with Promova

When it comes to holidays, you don’t want to spend any minute studying. But we know how to help you learn more about traditions in the US and make this process as fun and exciting as possible. Promova is an international language-learning platform created to help people all over the world master common foreign languages and become fluent in them. Let’s see what features are available for English learners right now. 

For those who prefer studying with professional tutors, Promova offers traditional one-on-one or group lessons. If you want to learn English alone, you can seek help from our team of experienced teachers. They will be happy to create a studying plan according to your fluency level and help you achieve your goals. And if you want more practice with other students, join our group lessons to learn and have fun at the same time. 

If you want to study alone, you can install the convenient Promova application on your phone or laptop. This app allows you to access hundreds of unique topics, vocabulary, practice lessons, and much more. The best thing is that the application is free, and you can enjoy your studying process anywhere and anytime you want. So don’t waste any more minutes! Go to the Promova website right now and see all the opportunities to choose the one that suits you best.

Conclusion

As you can see, American traditions and customs are unique and exciting. Some of them are similar to European culture, while others are extremely different. But they all have one thing in common – they are meant to provide a good mood, make people spend more time with their family and friends, and simply have fun. 

If you live in the US, please share your favorite local tradition in the comments. And if not, write your thoughts about these customs – which ones do you have in your country, and which seem unusual? We will be happy to read your messages!

FAQ

What are the most common Christmas traditions in the USA?

Since Christmas is a family holiday, most traditions are connected to relatives. The most important thing is to have Christmas dinner with your family. Other customs include providing gifts to all people you know (even if you are not very close), wearing ugly sweaters, and spending money on charity.

How do Americans celebrate the New Year?

Usually, Americans celebrate the New Year in the company of their friends. They throw holiday parties, find someone for the traditional midnight kiss, or watch the legendary Ball Drop on Times Square. Another essential thing to do on New Year’s Eve is to count down till midnight and drink a lot of glasses of bubbly. 

What are the main American traditions on Halloween?

There are three traditions without which Halloween won’t be Halloween anymore. The first custom is making jack-o’-lanterns, spooky lanterns made from pumpkins. Americans carve scary faces and put the candle inside the pumpkin. Other popular traditions are making scary costumes and going trick-or-treating in the neighborhood to get some sweets and candies.

What are the most unusual American traditions?

One of the most popular and weird American cultural traditions is a Presidential turkey pardoning during Thanksgiving. Other unusual traditions include tailgate parties (parties on the stadium parking lot before the football match), watching the Super Bowl advertisements, throwing gender parties (or baby showers), etc. All these traditions were popular dozens of years ago and remain popular nowadays.

Comments

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PromovaJan 11th, 2024
Christmas is popular in the USA, thanks to cultural influences like legendary movies. American Christmas traditions include giving gifts to everyone, donating to charity, providing free Christmas trees to those in need, and the tradition of wearing Ugly Christmas Sweaters.
Rory WoodsJan 11th, 2024
What makes Christmas one of the most popular holidays in the USA, and what are some examples of Christmas traditions in American culture?
Kian BrennanJul 25th, 2023
Such a fun and informative read! I never knew there were so many quirky words related to American traditions. Thanks for sharing!