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American Holidays

A holiday is a special time of the year when friends and family get together to celebrate a good event. Originally, most holidays revolved around events in a religious calendar. That's why "holiday" is a mixture of two words: "holy" and "day." What is your favorite holiday and why?

4th of July

On the 4th of July, 1776, America adopted the Declaration of Independence and separated for good from Great Britain. That day has become a national holiday. There is a concert held every 4th of July on the Capital lawn of the White House that attracts half a million people for the music and the fireworks display.


Ho ho ho! His name is Santa Claus in America, but some other cultures call him Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Joulupukki, Saint Basil or Father Frost. That's a lot of names to answer to when he's delivering gifts! Did you know that some religions, like the Eastern Orthodox Christians, celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

Christmas Eve

Most families eat a traditional Christmas Eve dinner, which usually includes turkey or ham. It is a nice way for everybody to gather together for the holidays. Some like to exchange one or all presents after Christmas Eve dinner. Some families leave the presents until Christmas morning. What does your family do?


Many families today, because of the religious diversity all around us, celebrate Easter in a "secular," which means non-religious, way. Instead of concentrating on Jesus, they tell stories about the Easter Bunny and organize egg hunts. The Easter Bunny is a good image of the Easter season because he symbolizes growth and bounty.


Boo! Halloween started as "All Hallow's Eve," or the day before All Saints Day. This day is important in the Christian calendar to celebrate all the saints in the Bible. Halloween as we know it, with candy and masks, is a relatively new idea. Before candy corn, Halloween was celebrated mostly as a fall harvest festival.

Labor Day

A vacation from work for most Americans, Labor Day also means the end of summer and a return to school and cooler weather. Pick your back to school outfit carefully! Popular superstition, without any real rhyme or reason, has many people believe that it is improper to wear white after Labor Day.

Memorial Day

After World War I, Memorial Day became a day to honor all of our brave men and women who have lost their lives fighting for America in any war. If you don't happen to live near beautiful Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., call your local Veteran's office and find out about celebrations happening in your neighborhood.

New Year's Eve

America's most famous New Year's Eve party is in Times Square, right in the middle of New York City. Right before midnight, a giant motorized ball "drops" during the last minute of the countdown. People scramble to get a kiss from a loved one when the ball drops all the way down. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!

Presidents Day

Originally, Presidents Day was a day to celebrate George Washington's birthday, which is February 22nd. Later, President's Day was expanded to include Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which is on the 12th. Now President's Day falls between the two. If George Washington was still alive on President's Day in 2007, he would have celebrated his 275th birthday.


The pilgrims at the Virginia colony celebrated Thanksgiving after having thier first successful harvest in the New World. They got a lot of help from native people, like the Squanto Indians, in growing crops like corn and sweet potatoes. Did you know that over 45 million turkeys are cooked on Thanksgiving Day?

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th to remind everyone that we all need a little love in our lives. The American Greeting Card Association, which is grateful every day of the year for Valentine's Day, estimates that one billion Valentine's Day cards are bought and given every year. That's a lot of love!

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is a day to remember every American that has ever fought in combat and survived their experience. Did you know that this important holiday was actually started because of a letter-writing campaign in 1954 by ordinary citizens just like you? See, if you put your mind to something, it may come true.