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Every country has holidays that they value and celebrate. A lot of times, these celebrations have a history behind them and are accompanied by certain traditions.

These traditions can include ceremonies, food, gifts and even fireworks and more. Let’s talk about the Top 4 American holidays that you should absolutely know about.

Knowing WHY Americans celebrate them is helpful to understand their history and culture.

Knowing HOW Americans celebrate them will help you participate successfully without any unplanned surprises.

Please know that there are other wonderful federal holidays (such as Martin Luther King Day & more) that you should know about.

Take a look and view the complete American Holiday Calendar here.

Today, we focus on the American Holidays that come with the biggest celebrations.

Let’s go:

1. Thanksgiving (Last Thursday of November)

Ok guys, Thanksgiving is HUGE here, so get ready for invitations, great food and preparation craziness!

History of Thanksgiving

English Pilgrims in the 1600s shared a meal with their Native American neighbors. This gesture was symbolic for showing love and helping each other.

However, there is a lot of conversation on the actual Original Thanksgiving date. As a result, the USA decided to celebrate it on the last Thursday of October each year.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a family celebration that can also include friends, friends of friends, and even coworkers.

Some keep it small and some have pretty big celebrations with 15 or more guests. 

This American celebration is all about spending time with loved ones and sharing great food.

Preparations for Thanksgiving dinner usually start the day or two before since there are several dishes to be served.

Here are some examples of traditional Thanksgiving dishes:

  • 1. Turkey (or Turkey Meat Alternative if you don’t eat meat).
  • 2. Mac and Cheese
  • 3. Green Bean Casserole.
  • 4. Mashed Potatoes.
  • 5. Sweet Potatoe Casserole.
  • 6. Apple or Sweet Potatoe Pie.

And many more!

If you want to be well prepared and stick to traditional recipes for Thanksgiving, these recipe books won’t disappoint you!

We absolutely love them and had to include them in our top recommendations for you.

Check it out below (for traditional Holiday & Thanksgiving recipes) and take it home with you!

And if you don’t eat meat or animal products, here is a great way to cook animal-free dishes without losing the great taste of traditional Thanksgiving meals!

Just click on the image below to make it yours!

2. Christmas (December 25th)

While in some countries the main day to celebrate Christmas is December 24th, it is a day after in the United States (December 25th). Let’s look at the details:

History of Christmas:

The USA is a predominantly Christian country. Christmas is a religious celebration that honors the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is part of American culture so even many non-religious residents participate in this wonderful tradition.

How to Celebrate Christmas:

Similar to Thanksgiving, Christmas usually comes with a nice meal to share with family (and friends).

However, the meals are usually not as large and diverse as Thanksgiving Dinner (unless the family wants it that way).

Christmas also involves giving gifts, especially to children.

Gifts are usually wrapped and put underneath a Christmas tree (which is part of the Christmas tradition).

The children can then unwrap their gifts in the morning (December 25th). Some families cook dinner on Christmas Eve (December 24th) as well.

Christmas Celebrations usually last 2-3 days and many Americans get about two days off of work to do so.

3. Independence Day (4th of July)

Americans love celebrating Independence day, so it deserves a spot in our Top 4 list!

History of Independence Day

On the 4th of July (1776), the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress.

The Declaration of Independence was written because of the dissatisfaction with high taxes issued by England, amongst other reasons.

It is a symbol of liberty and therefore widely celebrated in the United States.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Independence day, click here.

How to Celebrate Independence Day

Americans are usually off work on Independence Day (sometimes even the day after) since it is a federal holiday (same applies to Thanksgiving and Christmas). 

Fireworks play a big role in this tradition and Americans usually try to find a great location to enjoy the fireworks in their local area.

Some people are lucky enough to see the fireworks from their home.

Others may not care about the fireworks too much and decide to celebrate at home or with neighbors.

Many Americans have a BBQ (Barbeque) on Independence Day since the season is perfect to hang out outside and enjoy the weather ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Halloween (October 31st)

From all the holidays celebrated in America, Halloween is probably the most fun! Let’s take a look:

History of Halloween

Halloween originated in a Celtic Festival, where people would wear masks and costumes around bonfires to scare away any bad ghosts.

Over the years, Americans added more activities around this holiday. For example, giving out candy and trick or treating.

How to Celebrate Halloween

Rule Number 1: Dress up and wear a costume! You can pick whatever you want to be that day, the sky is the limit!

Americans are super creative. You can be a Bollywood Dancer, a character from a movie, a politician or a vegetable.

Halloween in America is a lot of fun (probably one of our most favorite holidays).

Children usually go trick-or-treating that day which means the following: Children go from one house to another (usually in their neighborhood) and knock on people’s doors.

They then say: “Trick or Treat” which means that they will perform a prank (trick) if they don’t get some candy (treat).

Of course, the whole point is to give these children candy!

So once they say it the adults will hand them some candy before they head out to the next house.

Even if you don’t have children, it is fun to participate by opening the door and handing to all these kids in their adorable costumes.

A general rule to show participation is that you leave your Outdoor light (the light next to your main door) ON, so kids know that you are handing out candy.

If you run out of candy or don’t participate, you can leave your light off. That way, kids don’t waste their time knocking on your door.

For teenagers and adults, there are plenty of Halloween parties to have some fun at.

Also, Haunted Houses are an awesome spooky day to have some fun on Halloween.

If you have never seen one, you can find plenty of videos on Youtube to get an idea. 

Lastly, you can find the best Haunted Houses in the US here.

And don’t forget the Pumpkin Carving! This is a super fun activity that decorates your house and gets everybody in the mood for this spooky holiday!

What else?

Some families may have their own ways of celebrating these holidays. Some may not celebrate it at all.

Yet others may choose other holidays as their top favorite to celebrate. 

It totally depends on the family or the individual and can vary based on where you go or who you celebrate with.

The nice part: No matter what you decide to celebrate, you can change it to your liking and create your own unique celebration on the holidays you choose!

There are so many American Holidays and Traditions that are worth knowing about, especially if you consider living here (or already do).

If you want to learn more and be part of the conversation, take this great read with you.

It will give you a lot of details on all the holidays that are celebrated in the USA!

Want to learn more about American Culture? Here are some great posts for you:

American Culture: Facts and Perception

The Importance of Tips

Top 5 Activities Americans Enjoy

Food Culture in America