Holidays

Federal Holidays in the United States:
On these dates, government institutions, including the U.S. Postal Service and public schools, are closed. Banks also close on these dates, as do many private organizations.

Holiday Date Importance/Observances
New Year's Day January 1 The beginning of the Gregorian calendar year and traditional end of holiday season. On the preceding night, New Year's Eve, it is tradition to count down to midnight and drink champagne.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Third Monday in January Birthday of civil rights leader, who was actually born on January 15, 1929. In Atlanta, many people visit the King Center, tour his birth home, or attend a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was co-pastor.
Washington’s Birthday (or Presidents’ Day) Third Monday in February Birthday of George Washington, first president of the United States
Memorial Day Last Monday in May Honors those who died in war and marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Parades and services honor the fallen soldiers.
Independence Day (or Fourth of July) July 4 Celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from England in 1776. There’s a big celebration with concert in downtown Decatur.
Labor Day First Monday in September Honors the achievements of workers and the labor movement and marks the unofficial end of the summer season. Many people hold cookouts or go to the beach or a lake.
Columbus Day Second Monday in October Commemorates Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas
Veterans Day November 11 Honors all veterans of the United States armed forces and commemorates the end of World War I.
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November Traditionally, the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest; also the unofficial start of the holiday season. Families gather for a huge dinner; traditional foods served are turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and many different kinds of casseroles and vegetables.
Christmas Day December 25 Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus.

 

Other Holidays and Observances in the United States:
This is not a comprehensive list. If there is another you would like to add, please let us know.

Holiday Date Importance/Observances
Makar Sankranti January 14 One of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar; celebrates the sun’s journey into the northern hemisphere.
Chinese New Year Begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with Lantern Festival on the 15th day Marks the beginning of the new year and end of winter. Each year is the year of a specific animal. It is said that Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came and he named a year after each one. The main highlight at the Lantern Festival is the dragon dance.
Groundhog Day February 2 As the story goes, when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, if it doesn’t see its shadow, winter weather will soon end; if it does see its shadow, then winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
Valentine’s Day February 14 A day to express love and affection, especially towards a romantic partner. Some people exchange Valentine’s cards with friends and family; couples typically exchange gifts and have a romantic date.
Holi The day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March) Commemorates a legend from Hindu mythology; associated with the shedding of inhibitions and social restrictions (such as caste differences). Observers have a public bonfire, throw colored water and powder onto each other, and have street festivals.
St. Patrick’s Day March 17 Honors the patron saint of Ireland. People wear green and Irish pubs have celebrations with lots of music and Guinness.
Passover Begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan Jewish holiday commemorating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Those celebrating have special meals and eat of only unleavened food.
Easter First Sunday after first full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting. The Friday before Easter, Good Friday, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. There are religious services and children dye and hunt for Easter eggs.
Vesak (or Buddha Day) First full moon day of lunar month of Visakha; usually coincides with May Celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Observers honor the day with meditations (or prayers) and alms-giving.
Mother’s Day Second Sunday in May Honors mothers. People give gifts to the mothers and grandmothers in their life.
Father’s Day Third Sunday in June Honors fathers. People give gifts to the fathers and grandfathers in their life.
Asalha Puja (Beginning of Vassa) Day after the full moon day of the eighth lunar month of the Buddhist calendar (usually falls in July) Commemorates the first sermon of the Buddha; sometimes referred to as the “Buddhist Lint” by Westerners. During Vassa, monks intensify their meditation and laypeople often bring them necessities and give up certain luxuries.
Ramadan Ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar Muslims believe that during the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, to Muhammad. It is honored with inner reflection and the practicing of self-restraint, which includes fasting during daylight hours.
Eid al-Fitr The end of Ramadan and first day of Shawwal Festival of breaking the fast. Celebrated with family feasts and celebrations.
Rosh Hashanah First two days of Tishri, on Hebrew calendar Jewish New Year. It is a day of rest with a special religious service.
Yom Kippur 10 days after Rosh Hashanah Jewish day of atonement and one of the holiest days of the year for Jewish people. Observed with fasting and prayer.
Birth of the Bab Oct 20 Bahá'í followers around the world celebrate the birth of the Báb, a prophet and one of the founders of their faith, with prayers and social gatherings.
Halloween October 31 Believed to have originated as a pagan festival, but today is mostly a celebration for children to trick-or-treat dressed in costumes and costume parties for adults.
Diwali (or the Festival of Lights) The third day of the five-day festival falls on the dark new moon night of Ashwin (usually October or November of the Gregorian calendar). Five-day festival celebrated in India by Hindus and other religions, including Sikhs. Commemorates the victory of good over evil, when Lord Rama defeated Ravana. Celebrated with lighting of lamps and candles, fireworks and gift exchange.
Eid al-Adha (or the Feast of Sacrifice) The 10th day of the 12th and last Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar Lasting three days, it occurs at the conclusion of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is celebrated by Muslims all over the world, not just those making the pilgrimage, which is a once-a-lifetime occurrence for many. Celebrated with prayers, gifts to children and food. Some families choose an animal to be slaughtered and the meat is divided into three parts: one-third for the family; another third for friends or relatives; and the other third for the poor.
Hanukkah (or the Festival of Lights) 25th day of Kislev according to Hebrew calendar (usually falls in December on Gregorian calendar) Eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the day the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Holy Temple. Celebrated with liighting of the Menorah and giving of small gifts.
Kwanzaa December 26 - January 1 Celebrates African culture and the heritage of African-Americans. Celebrated with a feast, gift-giving and lighting of candles.

 

See other celebrations and obervances on the usa.gov website