In the States there are only two official national holidays, Thanksgiving and Independence Day, apart from Christmas, New Year's Day and Easter. But like people all over the world, Americans love celebrations and holidays, and have many special days to mark events throughout the year.
Thanksgiving is a very old tradition and a very important date on the American calendar. It was first celebrated in October 1621 by the first British settlers, the Pilgrims, but today it is on the fourth Thursday of November. The Pilgrims gave thanks after their first winter in America. They celebrated with the Indians who helped them to live in the new land. Today it is a family feast celebrated with a huge dinner with traditional food — roast turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, corn bread and pumpkin pie.
American Independence Day
American Independence Day is on 4 July, the day when the Declaration of Independence from Britain was signed. All Fourth of Julys are celebrated with parades, firework displays, bonfires, picnics, barbecues and parties.
Labor Day, when Americans celebrate all people working in the country, is on the first Monday in September. It usually means the end of summer. For children it is the end of holiday time and the beginning of a new school year.
Trick or treating
31 October is Hallowe'en, the night when witches, ghosts, demons and other scary things come out to haunt people. Children dress up in costumes and go Trick or Treating to each house in the neighbourhood. If the neighbours don't give them sweets, the children play a trick on them.
Opportunities to celebrate
The dates of birth of famous people offer another opportunity to celebrate.
Americans celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday on the third Monday in January, and the birthdays of two great presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington (the first president of the USA in 1789) on President's Day on the third Monday of February. Memorial Day on the last Monday in May remembers people who died at war, and Earth Day (22 April) reminds Americans to think about the environment.
Special days for different states
Some holidays are only celebrated in certain states: Louisiana has All Saints’ Day, while about 40 states celebrate Columbus Day.
Different states also have special days, weeks or months to honour particular people, events or food. For example, by tradition, Clown Week is celebrated in August, and Take Care of Your Pet Week is always the last week in September.
National Pizza Month is October, March is both National Hamburger and Pickle Month, and National Peanut Month, and August is National Sandwich Month. In fact, think of a food or a person or event and you’ll probably find someone in the USA will want to celebrate it!
Source: Excursion, an old Italian book.