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National holidays include New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not all of these are observed “federal holidays,” but rather popular holidays or days of festivities commemorated by most Americans. Other federal holidays include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day.

Of the aforementioned national holidays, Christmas is by far the most popular and most widely celebrated holiday - not only in the United States, but around the globe. Christmas, celebrated on December 25th, generally marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Although largely considered a Christian holiday, Christmas is also observed as a cultural holiday by many non-Christians. Easter is another traditionally religious holiday when Christians celebrate their belief that Jesus Christ was rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Non-Christians also celebrate Easter as a “rebirth of nature” to welcome the arrival of spring. New Years is a holiday celebrated January 1 in most parts of the world. This is the first official day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, and many cities across the globe welcome the new year with New Years Eve fireworks and New Years Day parades.

Two holidays that are associated more strictly with the United States are Thanksgiving and 4th of July (although Canada does celebrate their own Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.) The 4th of July is a day for Americans to celebrate their patriotism with family picnics, parades and fireworks displays. The day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Thanksgiving is an annual fall harvest festival, celebrated with the coming together of family and friends to share a large meal and give thanks for their blessings. Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31 in most cities and towns across the country. It includes activities such as trick-or-treating, haunted house tours, bonfires and costume parties. Halloween is a tradition mostly celebrated in the western world, including the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand. It originated in the United States from Irish immigrants who carried their traditions to North America in the 19th century. Valentine’s Day, celebrated February 14, is a day of hearts and flowers, lovers and friends, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Today, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-giving day, behind Christmas.


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