Santa Claus and evergreens have been common December additions to homes, schools, businesses, and other public places to America since the mid nineteenth century. They are two symbols of the Christian holiday of Christmas whose origins are unrelated to the religious meaning of the day.
Most societies have had rituals or times set aside to honor ancestors, those who have died and have paved the way for the living. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is the day Americans have set aside for such remembrances.
Holidays were sometimes celebrated by a party during school, study of the history of a certain holiday, or a performance. Gifts were often exchanged.