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American Holidays

American Holidays

USA Holidays Any person who has traveled or moved from another country to the U.S. knows that at first you feel culturally disconnected and isolated. This is especially true on American holidays. A basic knowledge of American holidays and how they originated can help a newcomer enjoy these days of rest and fun. Here is a chronological list of American holidays that describes their origin, what they mean to Americans, and how people in the U.S. celebrate each day.

Frankly, there's no such concept as "federal" holidays in USA. Every state declares its own holidays. But de facto there are 10 holidays that are celebrated in every state as official, or "federal", although by law President and Congress declare "federal" holidays for government employees only. The following holidays are celebrated in US as Federal: New Year, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

US Holidays that are celebrated by most americans:

1 January
Although americans prefer to celebrate Christmas over New Year, it is typically a national holiday. This day is especially popular among immigrants, and is celebrated the same way as everywhere in the world. Christmas Tree and Santa Claus are two common attributes of this holiday   more»

3rd Monday of January
This day commemorates the life of the civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968. Indeed, Mr. King’s non-violent efforts to end racial discrimination in the U.S. merit this honor. For most American families there are no traditions related to this holiday, but government and civil leaders usually hold public civil rights ceremonies.   more»

14 February
Don't expect a day off from work on Valentine's Day, but plan on buying chocolate and flowers for the one you love. Although it started as a religious holiday to remember a Christian martyr who lived in the third century, today it's one of the most commercial holidays in the U.S. How the day transitioned from a focus on religious martyrdom to romantic love is still an open question.   more»

2nd Monday of February
First designated to celebrate the birthday of George Washington, the first president of the United States, government officials eventually included anti-slavery President Abraham Lincoln in Presidents’ Day. The state of Massachusetts also includes former presidents who were born there, such as Samuel Adams and John F. Kennedy.   more»

17 March
If you forget to wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day, you might get pinched. Originally a Catholic holiday in Ireland, the day has since become one of the most festive holidays in Europe, Canada and the U.S. The green clothing signifies the Irish tradition of pinning a cloverleaf to a coat lapel, which was thought to bring good luck. New York City is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world   more»

4th Monday of May
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (on May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.   more»

4 July
Independence Day is the most important non-religious national holiday in the U.S. On this day Americans celebrate the essence of what it means to live in a country with democratic values. It all started on July 2, 1776. Representatives from the first 13 colonies in America voted to separate from Britain’s rule and become an independent nation. A written declaration was drafted and after two days of debate and revisions, Congress voted to approve the final document on July 4.   more»

1st Monday of September
Labor Day honors workers, the men and women who build the nation. It was a labor union in the late 1800s that first lobbied for workers to receive an additional day off the job. Congress made it a federal holiday in 1894. Today the holiday also marks the end of summer, so many Americans travel, have picnics in the park, and go to the beach. Sports fans also commemorate the start of college and professional football seasons.   more»

31 October
In the U.S., Halloween is a day when kids dress in funny and frightening costumes and then go door-to-door saying “trick or treat.” The kids will hold out big bags and wait for you to add some candy or chocolate to their stash. Some families organize in-house parties rather than send their children out on the streets at night. Charity organizations often set up elaborate and scary haunted houses   more»

11 November
This holiday is celebrated to remember the end of World War I, which officially ended on November 11, 1918. Also known as Armistice Day, Americans honor the thousands of men and women who have served in the military during times of war. The President usually holds a public ceremony, often at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. where more than 290,000 soldiers have been buried.   more»

4th Thurthday of November
As a harvest festival, this holiday’s focus is food. Plan on eating far more than you should. The centerpiece of the family table is usually a large baked turkey filled with “stuffing” made from chopped bread, nuts, sausage, onions and spices. Thanksgiving Day is filled with the best traditional American recipes.   more»

25 December
Christmas is one of the most important Christian dates is celebrated to commemorate the manifestation of the divinity of Jesus Christ. In United States, Christmas is celebrated by Roman Catholics and Protestants on December 25. Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, Church celebrations, and the display of various decorations   more»


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American Holidays