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U.S. Holidays

Whether you are here on F visa, H visa or immigrant visa, you might have wondered what a particular holiday was created for, and how people celebrate them traditionally. Here you go:

Date Name Notes
January 1 New Year's Day Celebrates the beginning of a new calendar year. Traditional celebrations take place on New Year's Eve, including count-down to midnight at several major cities throughout the U.S. The most famous one is New York City, where more than 1 million people gather at Times Square every year to watch the New Year's Eve Ball drop at 12:00am.
Third Monday in January Martin Luther King Day Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the famous civil rights leader. His "I Have a Dream" speech is considered one of the greatest and most influential speeches in history. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, at age 39.
Third Monday in February Presidents' Day Honors Washington's birthday. However, it is now often considered a day to honor all U.S. Presidents.
Last Monday in May Memorial Day Commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service for the country. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on this day. It is also traditionally viewed as the beginning of summer.
July 4 Independence Day Also called the Fourth of July, this day celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Almost every city will have firework shows. People also enjoy BBQ, picnics, sporting events and many other public events on this day to celebrate the history and traditions of the United States.
First Monday in September Labor Day Originally created to be a day off for the "working man," Labor Day celebrates the achievements of workers. Often viewed as the end of summer.
Second Monday in October Columbus Day Celebrates the discovery of the America by Christopher Columbus.
November 11 Veterans Day Honors all military veterans, on the anniversary of the ending of World War I.
Forth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day

A day for "Giving Thanks!" Families and friends usually gather for a large turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and other traditional foods.

Almost all businesses also use a floating holiday to make it a 4-day weekend, so Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

The day after Thanksgiving is often called "Black Friday," because many retailers start seeing black (profit) on that day due to heavy traffic. It is traditionally viewed as the start of the holiday shopping season.

Other traditions include Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and of course the Thanksgiving Classic football games.

December 25 Christmas Day

Celebrates the birth of Jesus. Traditions include decorating homes with Christmas lights, trees, nativity scenes, exchange of gifts, and of course, the arrival of Santa whom many young children have been waiting for anxiously. Many non-Christians in the U.S., and around the world, also celebrate Christmas as a holiday, although not explicitly a religious holiday.

Almost all businesses and retail stores close on Christmas day, and many institutes and companies even shut down for the entire week.

Many businesses and communities hold Christmas parties around mid-December, often with fun games to exchange gifts among participants.

You may also enjoy many beautiful and well-known Christmas songs, such as "Jingle Bells," "It's a Holly Jolly Christmas," "Silent Night," "Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer," "Let it Snow," "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and many more.

See also: U.S. federal government holiday calendar