American Holidays

I would like to tell you about holidays and traditions in the United States of America. The so-called legal holidays include Christmas, New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and others.

Christmas is a religious holiday celebrated on the 25-th of December. On this day Americans celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and sing Christmas carols. Another important tradition is sending Christmas cards. People start sending cards to their relatives and friends early in December. Going home for Christmas is another good tradition. Christmas is considered to be a family celebration and every person must come back home on this day. This means that at Christmas American houses are full of aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives who might not see each other for a year. Americans put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with toys and sweets. There are religious ceremonies at churches on Christmas Day and families usually attend them. The Christmas table is very big. You can see turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, pies and other food. In the morning children hurry to the Christmas tree to look for presents. They hang big colourful socks for Santa Claus to put presents inside. Everybody starts unwrapping presents and thanking each other.

New Year's Day is celebrated on the 1-st of January but Americans begin celebrating it on the 31-st of December. There is a big celebration in Times Square in New York City on this day. New Year's Day is not as widely celebrated as Christmas. On January 1 Americans visit friends, relatives and neighbours. There are parties and а lot of food. People watch television together and write New Year’s resolutions.

Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January. Martin Luther King was a black man who won full civil rights for black Americans. On this day schools, offices and federal agencies are closed.

Memorial Day is on the last Monday of May. On this day Americans honour the memories of their dead relatives. This day is also the beginning of summer. Americans go to relax at the beach or go to the mountains.

Independence Day is one of the most important holidays in America. It is celebrated on the 4-th of July. On this day in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. There are picnics, parades and fireworks all over the country on Independence Day. Americans do not work: they have day-long picnics with their favourite food like hot-dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and others.

Halloween is a holiday celebrated mostly by children and the young. On the 31-st of October they dress as vampires, witches and ghosts and go from house to house saying: "Trick or treat?" People should give them a treat, otherwise the children will play a trick on them.

Thanksgiving is one of the popular American holidays, too. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This holiday dates back to the time when the first settlers, the Pilgrims, came to America. Their first winter was very hard, they had little food. In spring the Indians taught them to plant and grow new crops, hunt and fish. The following autumn the colonists made a great feast for the Indians. At Thanksgiving American families gather and spend this day together. The traditional Thanksgiving food is roast turkey, pumpkin pies, cranberry jelly, ham, sweet potatoes, and other delicious food.

The United States is a young country, but it has a lot of great old and new holidays that are fun to celebrate.