What holidays does the United States celebrate?

The following are the most popular holidays. On federal holidays, banks, government offices (including the post office), and many businesses are closed.

New Year's Day (January 1)-Many people celebrate the beginning of a new year with a party for family and friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (the second Monday in January)-This holiday celebrates the birthday of a famous civil rights leader.

Valentine's Day (February 14)-A day for friends and lovers to give cards and gifts to one another. This holiday originally honored Saint Valentine.

President's Day (third Monday in February)-A holiday to honor the presidents of the United States, especially George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom were born in February.

Saint Patrick's Day (March 17)-This holiday is named after Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. Many people wear the color green on this day to represent Ireland.

Good Friday (a Friday sometime in March or April, depending on the lunar calendar)-On this day, Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ.

Easter (the Sunday after Good Friday)-Many people celebrate Easter as the beginning of spring, following family traditions of coloring boiled eggs (called "Easter eggs") and attending church with family. For Christians, Easter is the day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

April Fool's Day (April 1)-A day when people often play practical jokes (funny surprises) on others.

Memorial Day (the last Monday in May)-Honors Americans who have died, especially those killed in war.

Independence Day (July 4)-Also called the Fourth of July, celebrates the beginning of the United States as a nation.

Labor Day (first Monday in September)-Honors working people.

Columbus Day (second Monday in October)-Honors Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the Americas in 1492.

Halloween (October 31)-A day when people emphasize scary things, wear colorful costumes, and have parties. Young children wear costumes and travel around their neighborhoods to collect candy from neighbors (known as "trick-or-treating").

Veteran's Day or Armistice Day (November 11)-Honors Americans who have served in the armed forces, and celebrates the ending of World Wars I and II.

Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November)-A holiday in which families gather for a big feast, usually with turkey as the main food. Christians celebrate by giving thanks to God for the year's blessings.

Christmas (December 25)-Most people celebrate this holiday by giving gifts to one another and enjoying a variety of family traditions. This is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Can I join in holiday celebrations?

Many communities have public celebrations or parades on certain holidays, including Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Your dormitory or campus group may sponsor special events for holidays, such as a "sweetheart" banquet on Valentine's Day, a costume party on Halloween, a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, or a caroling (singing) and Christmas-tree-decorating party on Christmas.

Many churches have special programs on Good Friday, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You are welcome to attend these services, even if you're not a Christian. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are also special times for American families to gather together for festive dinners. If you have a chance to visit an American home during these holidays, you will enjoy taking part in the family's traditions and celebrations.

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