Days off are a luxury in the US. If you’re working or studying in the U.S., it’s a good idea to learn about holidays and special observances — particularly those that give you a break! We’re talking about official holidays – schools are shut, you’re out of the office and if you’re lucky you can plan these long weekends in advance. Here’s a list of the most widely celebrated American holidays and how they’re celebrated:
New Year’s Day (January 1)
The day when Gym owners are the happiest. New Year’s Day is when people take rebirth and sing ‘New Year New Me’. But jokes aside, it’s one of my favorite days of the year. It’s a day to relax, put your feet up, and welcome in the new year (hopefully not nursing too much of a headache from the night before). Your guests are about to leave, your home is yours again, you can start planning your year ahead with some mindful goals and enjoy the solitude and fresh start.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January)
Marks the birthday of the African American minister who led a nonviolent civil rights movement in the 1960s. As this holiday is relatively young, there aren’t quite the number of traditional observances however more recently schools and groups have taken it as a day of celebrating African American culture, civil rights movements, and the constant work required to move a country forward.
Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)
A day that honors several influential American presidents. However, Presidents’ Day is not the official name of the holiday. The idea behind the name was to create a holiday that did not recognize a specific president, but rather celebrated the office of the presidency. Fun fact: Originally this day was designated as the federal observance of the birth of George Washington (first president of the United States)
Memorial Day (Last Monday in May) (May 25)
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries and you will notice that the flag of the United States is flown at half staff from dawn until noon. Memorial Day also marks the ‘Start of Summer’. Families gather and celebrate by grilling outdoors, taking a short road trip and taking advantage of the Memorial day sale!
Independence Day (July 4)
The day of first barbeques. Or as your grandparents would say – 4th of July is when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This holiday is all but the American spirit. You’ll see everything and everyone in Red, white, and blue, marches take place all over cities and towns, barbecues and grills are being lit and covered in hot dogs and burgers. Grab a beer, get togetehr with friends and watch the fireworks to end the evening.
Labor Day (first Monday in September)
Also called as a reminder that Summer is over. That means back to school season is coming soon. Eeeks! This would be the perfect time to enjoy the last few days of summer. Enjoy the barbeque, visit a park, go to the beach or take a short road trip. Loabor Day as the name suggests is a day you give a tribute to the U.S. workforce and yourself 🙂
Columbus Day (second Monday in October)
This officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors the Indigenous peoples of America and commemorates their shared history and culture. Many groups put on parades and events in public areas to show the rich history of the country’s indigenous people and use it as a day of education for younger people.
Veterans Day (November 11)
Honors veterans of all American wars. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places, the American flag is hung at half-mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11 am. It is a day where many veterans will come together and non-veterans are urged to support those who serve.
Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
Thanksgiving is a day to show gratitude and share with loved ones. Traditionally this is a day of family, and for those who don’t have family or are too far away from them, close friends. Lunch is referred to as “dinner” and there is more food put on a table than those attending can possibly eat. There is football on TV, groups come together, food is shared, and a moment is taken to give thanks for what you have, and those who have helped.
Christams (Decemeber 25)
The most popular holiday in the whole wide world is Christmas! I don’t think this one needs any explanation. It’s that wonderful time of the year! Lights, gifts, joy, prayers and a lot of food and family time is on the table. Along with Christmas there are other cultural holidays celebrated around the same time. So a good way to wish someone during this time is “Happy Holidays”!
What’s your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate?