The United States of America is a diverse and multicultural country that celebrates various holidays throughout the year. Some of these holidays are federal, meaning that they are recognized by the government and most businesses and schools are closed. Some of these holidays are state, meaning that they are only observed in certain states or regions. Some of these holidays are cultural, meaning that they reflect the traditions and beliefs of different ethnic and religious groups.
National holidays are days that are designated by the federal government as public holidays, meaning that most federal employees and many private sector workers get a day off from work. Some national holidays also have special significance for the history and culture of the country.
The US recognizes 12 federal holidays, which are:
New Year's Day
This is the first day of the Gregorian calendar year, and it marks the beginning of a new year. Many people celebrate this day by making resolutions, watching fireworks, or attending parties.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
(third Monday of January)
This is a day to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader who fought for racial equality and social justice in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his "I Have a Dream" speech and his role in the March on Washington in 1963. He was assassinated in 1968.
(third Monday of February)
This is a day to commemorate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of the most influential presidents in American history. Washington was the first president and the leader of the American Revolution, while Lincoln was the 16th president and the leader of the Union during the Civil War. Some states also celebrate other presidents on this day.
(last Monday of May)
This is a day to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It originated after the Civil War as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Many people observe this day by visiting cemeteries, attending parades, or having picnics.
This is the day that marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which declared that the 13 colonies were free and independent from Great Britain. It is also known as the Fourth of July or America's birthday. Many people celebrate this day by watching fireworks, waving flags, or having barbecues.
(first Monday of September)
This is a day to celebrate the contributions and achievements of American workers and labor unions. It originated in the late 19th century as a result of the labor movement, which fought for better working conditions and rights for workers. Many people observe this day by taking a break from work, shopping, or traveling.
(second Monday of October):
This is a day to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492, which opened up a new world for exploration and colonization by Europeans. It is also a day to celebrate the diversity and heritage of Americans with Italian ancestry. However, some states and cities do not observe this day or celebrate it as Indigenous Peoples' Day or Native American Day, to acknowledge the impact of colonization on Native Americans.
This is a day to honor and thank all veterans who have served in the U.S. military, both in war and peace. It coincides with Armistice Day, which marks the end of World War I in 1918. Many people observe this day by attending ceremonies, visiting memorials, or wearing poppies.
(fourth Thursday of November)
This is a day to express gratitude for the blessings and harvest of the past year. It originated as a feast shared by Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621, which celebrated their survival and cooperation. Many people celebrate this day by having a turkey dinner with family and friends, watching football games, or participating in charity events.
This is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who is regarded as the son of God and the savior of humanity by Christians. It is also a day to exchange gifts, decorate trees, sing carols, or attend church services. Many people also celebrate this day as a secular holiday that reflects joy, peace, and goodwill.
New Year's Eve
The last day of the Gregorian calendar year, celebrated with countdowns, parties, and resolutions.
In addition to federal holidays, each state has its own holidays that may or may not be observed by businesses and schools. Some examples are:
A day to celebrate when a state joined the union, such as Hawaii on August 21 or Alaska on January 3.
Confederate Memorial Day
A day to honor those who fought for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, such as Alabama on April 26 or Mississippi on April 27.
A day to commemorate the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day.
A day to remember the battles of Lexington and Concord that started the American Revolution on April 19, 1775, such as Massachusetts on April 19 or Maine on April 17.
A day of carnival festivities before Lent, such as Louisiana on February 28 or Alabama on February 27.
The US is home to many ethnic and religious groups that celebrate their own holidays according to their customs and beliefs. Some examples are:
Chinese New Year
A festival that marks the beginning of a new lunar year, based on the Chinese zodiac, such as January 28 or February 12.
St. Patrick's Day
A day to honor the patron saint of Ireland and celebrate Irish culture, such as March 17 or March 20.
Cinco de Mayo
A day to commemorate the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, also a celebration of Mexican-American heritage.
A festival that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, such as May 23 or May 12.
An eight-day Jewish festival that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after a revolt against Greek rule, such as December 10 or November 28.
A seven-day African-American celebration that honors African heritage and values, such as December 26 or January 1.
These are just some of the holidays that are celebrated in the US, but there are many more that reflect the diversity and richness of the American society. Whether you observe them or not, you can learn more about them and appreciate their significance and history.