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3 min read
Lisa Stewart
December 4, 2023
Reading time
3 min read

Celebrating American holidays

In this article, we'll explore a variety of these meaningful dates and uncover the English terms and expressions used during these festive occasions.
Celebrating American holidays

Celebrating American holidays

Holidays hold a special place in American culture, serving as holy days that commemorate significant national, cultural, or religious events. In this article, we'll explore a variety of these meaningful dates and uncover the English terms and expressions used during these festive occasions. Let’s unwrap the magic of celebrating holidays in English!

New Year's Day and Eve

On January 1st, we kick off the year with New Year's Day, marking a fresh start and a time for reflection and anticipation. However, the celebrations truly come alive on New Year's Eve, when families and friends gather to welcome the coming year.

People throw great parties, and many watch the iconic Times Square Ball drop in New York City. The countdown to midnight at these celebrations always ends in joyous shouts of "Happy New Year!"

Two people jumping and celebrating

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Every third Monday of January, Americans remember the remarkable legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his relentless fight for civil rights. This occasion is approached with reverence, unlike other holidays, focusing on the significance of the day rather than exchanging celebratory wishes. It serves as a reminder of the progress made towards equality.

Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech

Love and affection on Valentine's Day

February 14th is a day dedicated to expressing love and affection. Valentine's Day is typically celebrated by exchanging presents like candy, flowers, paper hearts, and heartfelt cards with our loved ones. Although warm wishes can be extended to family and friends, this special day is often reserved for celebrating romantic love.

A young boy holding a card with a heart on it

The Irish spirit of Saint Patrick's Day

March 17th marks Saint Patrick's Day, primarily celebrated as an Irish holiday, and is enthusiastically embraced by people worldwide. On this day, dressing in green, attending parades adorned with shamrocks and leprechauns, and enjoying the cheerful, friendly atmosphere are common traditions. Many also flock to bars and pubs to raise a pint of beer in celebration.

A leprechaun holding a pot of gold

Memorial Day: Honoring the brave

The last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a time when Americans pay tribute to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military.

Many also celebrate by enjoying the first "three-day weekend" of summer with beach trips or backyard barbecues. Parades, ceremonies, and visits to cemeteries to place flowers on soldiers' graves are common practices.

The American flag

Independence Day: Celebrating the nation

On July 4th, Americans come together to celebrate their nation's birthday and the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This day is filled with parades, barbecues, and firework displays that light up the night sky. A typical greeting on this holiday is to exclaim "Happy 4th of July!"

Two people celebrating the 4th of July

Halloween: A spooky delight

October 31st is known as Halloween, a day when kids transform into "trick-or-treaters," donning fun costumes and going door-to-door to collect candy. The air fills with the familiar cry of "Trick or treat!" as people open their doors to offer sweet delights.

It’s not just a holiday for children, either — many adults join in by throwing costume parties after trick-or-treating is done. Spooky decorations, haunted houses, and intricately carved jack-o'-lanterns add to the enchanting atmosphere of Halloween. 

Two dogs wearing Halloween costumes

Honoring veterans on Veterans Day

November 11th is observed as Veterans Day, a day dedicated to honoring and appreciating the military's past and present members. When encountering a service member, it's customary to express gratitude by saying, "Thank you for your service." This day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made in defense of the nation.

Veterans hoisting the Amerian flag

Thanksgiving: A time of gratitude

On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, expressing gratitude for the blessings of the year and commemorating America's first harvest. The day typically features shared meals with roast turkey as the centerpiece. Parades and football games add to the festive atmosphere, making it a cherished family holiday. 

Woman doing a funny dance with a turkey on her head

The holiday season and Kwanzaa

In America, the holiday season begins with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores offer enticing sales and discounts. From then until New Year's Day, it's known as the holiday season. During this time, people exchange greetings such as "Season's greetings!" or "Happy holidays!" as they celebrate various festive occasions.

From December 26th to the 31st, many African-Americans observe Kwanzaa, a seven-day holiday centered around African culture. Lighting candles on a Kinara and engaging in communal feasts form integral parts of this celebration.

A Kwanzaa Kinara (candle)

As we bid farewell to the old and welcome the new, holidays provide us with meaningful opportunities to come together, celebrate our diverse traditions, and express our appreciation for the significant events and people that shape our lives.

Embracing the English terms and expressions associated with these holidays helps open doors to inclusive conversations and deeper cultural understanding. So, join in the festivities, immerse yourself in the joy of celebrations, and speak confidently about festive occasions in English!