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Christmas Across America

Discover what Americans all across the country are cooking up for Christmas.

We asked users in the U.S. what they were cooking for Christmas. From Hawaii to Connecticut, the response was overwhelming: nearly 5,000 people shared their holiday cooking plans and told us what was unique about holiday food in their area.

Christmas in the Land of Trees: Pacific Northwest

The cool, rainy Pacific Northwest is known for several things at the holidays: salmon, apples, and Christmas trees.

  • Salmon, which is indigenous to this region, is a popular main dish at the holidays and throughout the year. Smoked salmon is often given as a Christmas gift.
  • Besides cooking, more than anywhere else in the U.S., our survey showed that users in the Northwest chose going to the movies or renting movies as their favorite holiday activity. Maybe it's the rain!
  • Oregon and Washington produce more Christmas trees than anywhere else in the country. In 2001 alone, 8.3 million Christmas trees were harvested in Oregon.

Try some favorite recipes from the Pacific Northwest:

Christmas in the Sun: California

Christmas in a warm, sunny place seems like a strange idea to many people. For Southern Californians, it's everyday life.

  • Across the U.S., 85% of people surveyed said that it wouldn't be Christmas without snow. However, more people in California than anywhere else (21%) said that they would prefer to spend Christmas in a warm, sunny place.
  • By far, cooking and baking was the most popular holiday activity all across America. Californians topped the list with a whopping 86% claiming that they would most prefer to spend the holidays in their kitchens.
  • Regional holiday food favorites: avocados, artichokes, homemade tamales, and fish tacos. Beyond the mainland United States, members in Hawaii said they celebrate Christmas by cooking Kalua Turkey and Laulaus.

Try some favorite recipes from California: 

Christmas in the Heartland: The Midwest

The Midwest is a melting pot of cultures, which is reflected in its varied traditions.

  • Across the Midwest, European and Scandinavian cuisines have a strong influence on holiday food traditions. Popular recipes include lefse, stollen, lutefisk, lasagna and Polish sausage.
  • In our survey, the Midwest was the only region of the country where ham was chosen over turkey as the favorite holiday meal.

Try some favorite recipes from the Midwest:

Tex-Mex Christmas: The Southwest

American and Mexican cuisines meet in the Southwest to create the perfect marriage of holiday food traditions.

  • Although they rarely admit it, many people actually like fruit cake. More than in any other region, 13% of Southwesterners claimed they would like to receive fruit cake as a gift.
  • Three people claimed that building snowmen was their favorite holiday activity. (Now if we only knew where they got the snow....)
  • Unique regional holiday foods: green chilis, blue corn muffins, and romeritos.

Try some favorite recipes from the Southwest:

Christmas Southern-style: The South

Rich with distinctive variations on traditional holiday fare, The South makes the holidays its own.

  • A high percentage of users in the South said they prefer to cook both ham and turkey at Christmas.
  • Pie was consistently voted the most popular holiday dessert in all regions of the country. Cookies came in second, except for in the South, where cakes took the prize.
  • Most Southerners (63%) claim that they do their Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving. Only a few admit to waiting until Christmas Eve.

Try some favorite recipes from the South:

A Traditional Christmas: Northeast

From New York to Maine, as in most of the U.S., New England traditions form the basis of the American holiday menu.

  • According to the survey, users in the Northeast were divided over whether to serve ham or turkey at Christmas, with turkey narrowly winning out.
  • Popular regional holiday foods: lobster, clam chowder, and mincemeat pie.

Try some favorite recipes from the Northeast:

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