Grace Troupe: What you need to know about American holidays

By Grace Troupe.  Posted October 18, 2013.

Some of our holidays are unique, others we adopted from some of the many nations embedded in our history.  No matter where our traditions came from, our country is just old enough to have its own unique flavor of old traditions.  Below are some of our most beloved and widely celebrated holidays here in the U.S. We’d love for you to celebrate with us!

Christmas:  December 25th

Of all the holidays, this is the most widely beloved…both here in the U.S. and in much of the world.  It started as a Christian holiday, but current celebrations have evolved to include a wide variety of both religious and non-religious traditions.  As a kid, Santa Claus brings presents.  As an adult, we all give presents to each other.  Many people celebrate in ways such as:  making cookies (and all sorts of sweets), spending time with family, buying and giving gifts, and decorating.

Halloween:  October 31st

This is likely the second most celebrated holiday as a culture, or at least it is for kids!  Although it has religious connections, this holiday is now a celebration of all things scary.  People celebrate by watching scary movies, going to haunted houses, and dressing up in costumes for parties.  Children dress up in costume and go from house to house “trick-or-treating” to collect candy.

Thanksgiving:  4th Thursday of November

This holiday started when early European settlers of America came to the East Coast.  They had made it through a hard winter and celebrated with a big feast with the Native Americans that helped them.  We commemorate this event on the 4th Thursday of November each year by eating as much as possible with friends and family.  Here in Nebraska, we generally pair this with watching football…then napping.

Independence Day (Often just called the 4th of July)

On this day in 1776 our nation adopted the Declaration of Independence, thus declaring ourselves as an independent nation.  We celebrate this day with fireworks, parades, barbeques, picnics, patriotic clothes and decorations, and other fun activities here in Lincoln.  Every year Lincoln has a fireworks show by Oak Lake.  If you want to see it from campus, simply go to the top of a parking garage, look west and you’ll have a great view!  The music accompanying it can be heard on the radio.  Most anywhere you go where the fireworks can be seen there will be cars playing the music on their radios with the windows down.

Easter:  March or April

This holiday, which is set by the cycle of the moon, also started as a Christian holiday. This holiday has been extended outside church tradition to include a variety of other celebrations.  Parents often fill baskets full of candy and leave them by the front door…which were supposedly left by the “Easter Bunny” (whose sole job is to deliver candy on Easter).  Easter egg hunts are also popular, where hollow plastic eggs are filled with candy and hidden for children to find.  As with many other holidays, families tend to gather and celebrate with a meal.

If you are an international student and are unable to go home for the holidays I HIGHLY RECOMMEND finding an American that will take you with them when they go home or have their own celebration.  Here in the Midwest, we are proud of our hospitality and you would be surprised how excited most students are to share their traditions with you!

Curious about other U.S. Holidays?  Visit this site:

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