Everyone works hard for a living, so isn’t it nice when a holiday comes along for a well-deserved day off? In the US, there are federal holidays that are typically observed nationally as official days off from work or school. By month, these holidays are:
New Year’s Day- with all that celebrating to ring in the New Year on December 31st, January 1st is a day off for relaxing, visiting with family and friends and recuperating!
Martin Luther King Day- King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement in the mid-20thCentury. His birthday is observed on the 3rd Monday of January.
President’s Day- celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February to honor two of the US’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, many school districts combine this holiday with a week long winter break off from school.
Memorial Day- celebrated on the last Monday of May, it commemorates US soldiers who died while in the military service. Parades are often held locally in honor of those in military service, followed by picnics and other celebrations.
Independence Day- or the Fourth of July is a US federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Britain. This holiday is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Labor Day- observed on the first Monday in September, it is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the US. Traditionally, Labor Day is also celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.
Columbus Day- many countries in the New World celebrate the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The US celebrates this day as Columbus Day, but it is not a federal holiday. Instead, local governments and businesses determine whether or not to close in observance of this day. Controversy exists surrounding this holiday and protests by Native Americans often occur on or around this day. Schools are typically closed in observance of Columbus Day.
Veterans Day- is an annual holiday observed on November 11 to honor military veterans. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.
Thanksgiving- In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the US colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that a national Thanksgiving Day to be held the last Thursday in November was formally proclaimed.
Christmas- is a holiday observed on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Most schools are closed for the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and most businesses are closed on Christmas Day as well.
Other holidays and celebrations happen throughout the year in the US. They usually do not include a day off from work or school unless taken as a personal day off. The most prevalent cultural, secular or religious holidays observed in the US include:
Groundhog Day on 2/2, Valentine’s Day on 2/14, St Patty’s Day on March 17, Easter in March/April, Passover in March/April, Mother’s Day in May, Cinco de Mayo on 5/5, Father’s Day in June, Rosh Hashanah in September, Grandparent’s Day on 9/12, Halloween on 10/31, Election Day on 11/2, Hanukkah in December and Kwanzaa in December.
There are many popular holidays observed in the US to honor groups of people, share cultural events and observe religious occurrences. Many holidays are observed nationally while others are celebrated regionally, but every month in the US there is always a reason to gather with family and friends.