Public holidays in the USA

A public holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year. A special day when people do not go to work and shops do not open (Longman dictionary of contemporary English)

New Year's Day falls on January 1 and marks the start of a new year according to the Gregorian calendar. It is a time when a lot of social meetings with friends, family members and neighbors take place. These gatherings are full of fun and laughter.

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States. It is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples. A time to remember the message of change through nonviolence. Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. 

" I have a dream...

I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers

I have a dream today"

Presidents' Day is celebrated in February to honor the first president of America George Washington. The holiday is celebrated in the United States on the third Monday in February. This holiday is also called Washington's Birthday. But some people see it as an opportunity to commemorate all past presidents of the United States. In the weeks or days leading up to the holiday, schools often organize events and lessons for students about the presidents of the United States and George Washington in particular. Here is a tradition concerning this holiday. In this day the cake in the form of cherry tree is served. This tradition is connected with one legend. A legend is told about George Washington as a boy. Young George had a new hatchet and with it he cut down a small cherry tree. When his father saw the tree, he was angry. "George," he said. "Did you do that?". The boy decided to tell the truth. "Yes, Father," he said, "I cut down the cherry tree with my hatchet. I cannot tell a lie." George Washington's father was proud of George for telling the truth. Thus American people not only honor Washington’s political and military achievements but also his honesty. 

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Originally a day on which flags and flowers were placed on graves of soldiers who died in the American Civil War, it has become a day on which the dead of all wars and all other dead are remembered the same way. Cities all around the United States hold their own ceremonies on the last Monday in May to pay respect to the men and women who have died in wars or in the service of their country. In many communities, special ceremonies are held in cemeteries or at monuments for the war dead by veterans of military services. Some hold parades and others hold memorial services or special programs in churches, schools or other public meeting places. Memorial Day is not limited to honor only those Americans from the armed forces. It is also a day for personal remembrance. Families and individuals honor the memories of their loved ones who have died. Church services, visits to the cemetery, flowers on graves or even silent tribute mark the day with dignity and solemnity. On Memorial Day, the President or Vice President of the United States gives a speech and lays a wreath on the tombs. Members of the armed forces shoot a rifle salute in the air. Veterans and families come to lay their own wreaths and say prayers. It is a day of reflection.

Independence Day is regarded as the birthday of the United States as a free and independent nation. Most Americans simply call it the "Fourth of July," on which date it always falls. 

The holiday recalls the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies located along the eastern coast of what is now the United States were involved in a war over what they considered unjust treatment by the king and parliament in Britain. The war began in 1775. As the war continued, the colonists realized that they were fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from England's rule. The Declaration of Independence, signed by leaders from the colonies, stated this clearly, and for the first time in an official document the colonies were referred to as the United States of America. It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag is widespread. 

This holiday, which always is observed on the first Monday of September has been a federal holiday since 1894, but was observed in some places before that day as a result of a campaign by an early organization of workers called the Knights of Labor. Its purpose is to honor the nation's working people. In many cities the day is marked by parades of working people representing the labor unions. 

 

Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, and the beaches and other popular resort areas are packed with people enjoying one last three-day weekend. For many students it marks the opening of the school year. 

Columbus day. This day commemorates Italian navigator Christopher Columbus' landing in the New World on October 12, 1492. Most nations of the Americas observe this holiday on October 12, but in the United States, annual observances take place on the second Monday in October. The major celebration of the day takes place in New York City, which holds a huge parade each year.

Veteran’s day. Originally called Armistice Day, this holiday was established to honor Americans who had served in World War I. It falls on November 11, the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought. Veterans' organizations hold parades or other special ceremonies, and the president customarily places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.  Official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day center around the Tomb of the Unknowns. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil. At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath and the playing of "Taps."

Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November, but many Americans take a day of vacation on the following Friday to make a four-day weekend, during which they may travel long distances to visit family and friends. 

The holiday dates back to 1621, the year after the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts, determined to practice their dissenting religion without interference. After a rough winter, in which about half of them died, they turned for help to neighboring Indians, who taught them how to plant corn and other crops. The next fall's bountiful harvest inspired the Pilgrims to give thanks by holding a feast. 

The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition -- not only because so many other Americans have found prosperity but also because the Pilgrims' sacrifices for their freedom still captivate the imagination.

To this day, Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion. 

Here is a tradition of parades in Thanksgiving day/ But here is also very strange tradition of  showing mercy to a turkey. On the eve of Thanksgiving day the president is given two best turkeys which have been chosen by votes. One of this turkeys is called national turkey and another one – vice turkey. National turkey will be showed a mercy to, the life of this turkey will be served forever. But vice turkey will be eaten in White house.

Christmas is a most important religious holy day for Christians, who attend special church services to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas is not only a religious holy day, but became one of the first federal holidays in 1870. On this day most businesses and offices remain closed and the greatest possible number of workers, including government employees, have the day off. Many places even close early on the day before. Gift-giving is common at Christmas time. Gifts are given to children, members of the family and close friends. They are given to people who have done favors to others or who work for them. Some people bake cookies or make candies or other special food treats for friends and neighbors. Christmas is also a time when most Americans show great generosity to other less fortunate than they. They send money to hospitals or orphanages or contribute to funds that help the poor. The decorating of homes for Christmas is very common. Most American who observe Christmas have a Christmas tree in their homes. the tree is decorated and trimmed with small lights and ornaments. Other decorations such as lights and wreaths of evergreen and signs wishing a "Merry Christmas" can be found inside and outside of many homes. Children hang their socks under fireplace. All of us know these traditions. But have you ever heard about the tradition of Festival of fires which takes place in Louisiana and attracts a lot of people. According to the popular belief exactly these fires light up the road for Santa Clause.