American holidays are strikingly different in origin and show surprising similarities in the manner of their celebration. No matter what the holiday's origin is, they all seem to be the same thing. A holiday has simply become, for most Americans, a day off from work, though some (for example, Thanksgiving and Christmas) retain some individuality.
The major holidays in the USA are:
New Year's Day, January, 1st:
People stay awake until after midnight on December 31st to "watch the Old Year out and the New Year in." Many parties are given on this night. Theatres, night clubs, restaurants are crowded. When midnight comes, they greet the New Year: people gather in the streets of big cities, they ring bells, blow whistles and automobile horns, some shoot off guns and firecrackers. Valentine's Day, February, 14th:
It is not a national holiday. Banks and offices do not close, but it is a happy little festival in honour of St Valentine, patron of sweethearts and lovers. It is widely celebrated among people of all ages by the exchange of "valentines." A "valentine" may mean a special greeting card or a little present. The greeting cards are often coloured red, have red trimmings and pictures of hearts. Washington's Birthday, February, 22d:
In addition to commemorating the birth of the United States' first President, it's a great day for shoppers. The department stores of Washington, DC, stated a national tradition of sales marked by unusual bargains. It is not a national holiday. Many schools, offices and banks close for this day, some stay open. The US Congress observes the birthday of George Washington with speeches and readings from his works. Easter:
Easter is in memory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon between March, 22, and April, 25. The 40 days before Easter are called Lent. Just before Easter, schools and colleges usually close. Students have a week or ten days of spring vacation. Easter is a church...
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