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What Holidays Are Called In America

by CiCi
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In the United States, holidays serve as a significant aspect of the nation’s cultural fabric. They are more than just days off work or school; they are deeply embedded traditions that reflect the values, history, and social dynamics of the country. This article delves into what holidays are called in America, exploring their origins, traditions, and the cultural significance they hold.

Federal Holidays in the United States

In the United States, there are ten federal holidays recognized by the government. These holidays are established by law and are observed by federal employees and institutions. They include:

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  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (first Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

These holidays are mandated by Congress and provide the American people with time to celebrate important events and figures in U.S. history.

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New Year’s Day: A Fresh Start

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year and is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the country. Traditions include staying up until midnight to “ring in the New Year,” watching the Times Square Ball Drop in New York City, and making New Year’s resolutions aimed at self-improvement.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Honoring a Civil Rights Leader

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, observed on the third Monday in January, honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a pivotal leader in the American civil rights movement. The day is marked by educational programs, community service, and reflections on issues of racial equality and justice.

Presidents’ Day: Celebrating American Leadership

Presidents’ Day, originally established to honor George Washington’s birthday, has come to be a celebration of all U.S. presidents. Observed on the third Monday in February, it often features patriotic displays and sales events, as well as educational activities focused on American history and governance.

Memorial Day: Remembering the Fallen

Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is dedicated to honoring the men and women who have died in military service to the United States. The day is marked by ceremonies at cemeteries and memorials, parades, and the tradition of placing flags on the graves of fallen soldiers.

Independence Day: America’s Birthday

Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It is one of the most significant and widely celebrated holidays in the United States, featuring fireworks, parades, concerts, and barbecues. The day reflects American patriotism and national pride.

Labor Day: Honoring American Workers

Labor Day, observed on the first Monday in September, honors the contributions of American workers and the labor movement. It is a time for relaxation and leisure, often seen as the unofficial end of summer. Activities include parades, picnics, and enjoying the outdoors.

Columbus Day: Controversial Commemoration

Columbus Day, observed on the second Monday in October, commemorates Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Americas in 1492. While traditionally celebrated with parades and ceremonies, the holiday has become controversial due to the impact of Columbus’s arrival on indigenous populations. Many cities and states have adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an alternative.

Veterans Day: Honoring All Who Served

Veterans Day, observed on November 11, honors all military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The day includes ceremonies, parades, and educational events that emphasize the sacrifices and contributions of veterans to national security and freedom.

Thanksgiving Day: A Harvest Festival

Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, originated as a harvest festival and has evolved into a day for giving thanks for the blessings of the past year. The holiday is marked by family gatherings, feasting on traditional foods such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Christmas Day: A Religious and Cultural Celebration

Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25, is both a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural event. Traditions include decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and enjoying festive meals. The holiday season often extends beyond Christmas Day, including various activities and celebrations leading up to New Year’s Day.

Non-Federal Holidays and Observances

Beyond the federal holidays, Americans celebrate a multitude of other holidays and observances that reflect the nation’s diverse cultural heritage and regional traditions.

Halloween: A Night of Fun and Frights

Halloween, celebrated on October 31, is a holiday with ancient roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain. It has evolved into a night of costumes, trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and parties. Children and adults alike enjoy the playful and spooky aspects of Halloween.

Valentine’s Day: Celebrating Love

Valentine’s Day, celebrated on February 14, is dedicated to expressing love and affection. The day is marked by the exchange of cards, flowers, chocolates, and other gifts between loved ones. Romantic dinners and special gestures are common on this day.

St. Patrick’s Day: Irish-American Heritage

St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March 17, honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is widely celebrated in the United States, especially in cities with large Irish-American populations. Festivities include parades, wearing green, and enjoying Irish music and food.

Easter: A Christian Celebration

Easter, a significant Christian holiday, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The date varies each year but typically falls in March or April. Traditions include attending church services, Easter egg hunts, and family meals featuring seasonal foods.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: Honoring Parents

Mother’s Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May, and Father’s Day, celebrated on the third Sunday in June, are dedicated to honoring parents. These days are marked by giving gifts, cards, and spending quality time with mothers and fathers.

Cultural and Regional Holidays

The cultural diversity of the United States is reflected in the celebration of various cultural and regional holidays. These observances highlight the rich tapestry of traditions brought by immigrants and indigenous peoples.

Cinco de Mayo: Mexican-American Pride

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 5, commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In the United States, it has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture, featuring festivals, music, dance, and Mexican cuisine.

Juneteenth: Freedom Day

Juneteenth, observed on June 19, marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas in 1865. It is a time to celebrate African American culture and history with community events, educational activities, and reflections on freedom and justice.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, an eight-day Jewish festival, usually falls in December. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and is marked by lighting the menorah, playing games, exchanging gifts, and enjoying traditional foods such as latkes and sufganiyot.

Kwanzaa: Celebrating African Heritage

Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is a holiday honoring African heritage in African-American culture. Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa emphasizes seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. The holiday includes lighting the kinara, cultural performances, and feasts.

Native American Holidays and Celebrations

Native American communities across the United States observe various holidays and celebrations that are deeply rooted in their cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs. These observances often include ceremonies, dances, storytelling, and communal gatherings.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In recent years, Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been adopted by many states and municipalities as an alternative to Columbus Day. It is a day to honor and celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Native American peoples. Events include educational programs, cultural performances, and community gatherings.

Powwows

Powwows are traditional Native American gatherings that feature music, dance, and cultural exchange. These events can occur throughout the year and are often open to the public. Powwows are a way for Native American communities to preserve and share their heritage.

Seasonal and Agricultural Celebrations

Many Native American tribes hold seasonal and agricultural celebrations that are tied to the natural cycles of planting, harvesting, and hunting. These include the Green Corn Ceremony, held by Southeastern tribes to celebrate the first corn harvest, and the First Salmon Ceremony, observed by tribes in the Pacific Northwest to honor the return of the salmon.

See also: What’s the 10 National US Holidays

Conclusion

Holidays in the United States are a rich and varied tapestry, reflecting the nation’s diverse cultural heritage, historical milestones, and shared values. From federal holidays that honor pivotal moments and figures in American history to cultural and regional celebrations that showcase the country’s diversity, these observances play a crucial role in the social and cultural life of the United States. Understanding these holidays provides insight into the American way of life and the importance placed on tradition, community, and national identity.

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