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Universi ity of South Brittany Natio onal School o of Engineers s of South Br rittany

 

R Report Abou ut:
 

Ameri ican Holidays Ho s

      By: AL A ECHCHE IKH EL ALA AOUI Adnan ne S Supervised by: Mrs L LOUEDEC Claire C

A August, 2011 1.
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Table of content
    1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  9.  Introduction  ....................................................................................................................................... 3  Martin Luther King Day ...................................................................................................................  4  Washington's Birthday (Presidents' Day) ........................................................................................  5  Memorial Day .................................................................................................................................... 5  Independence Day (July 4) ...............................................................................................................  6  Labor Day........................................................................................................................................... 6  Columbus Day ................................................................................................................................... 7  Veterans Day ..................................................................................................................................... 7  Thanksgiving ..................................................................................................................................... 7 

10.   Christmas ........................................................................................................................................... 8  11.   Other Celebrations ............................................................................................................................  9  12.   Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 10  13.   Bibliography  ..................................................................................................................................... 10 

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Word of gratitude
I would like to thank all the people who helped me during that intern-ship course, especially my English teacher Mrs LOUEDEC Claire and the Polyglot Language Centre who helped to improve my communication skills. 1. Introduction American Holidays is an introductory survey of the historical and social background of American holidays. People in every culture celebrate holidays. Although the word "holiday" literally means "holy day," most American holidays are not religious, but commemorative in nature and origin. Because the nation is blessed with rich ethnic heritage it is possible to trace some of the American holidays to diverse cultural sources and traditions, but all holidays have taken on a distinctively American flavor. In the United States, the word "holiday" is synonymous with "celebration! » In the strict sense, there are no federal (national) holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its holidays. In practice, however, most states observe the federal ("legal or public ") holidays, even though the President and Congress can legally designate holidays only for federal government employees. The following ten holidays per year are proclaimed by the federal government. New Year's Day Martin Luther King Day Washington's Birthday Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Columbus Day Veterans Day Thanksgiving Day Christmas Day January 1 third Monday in January third Monday in February last Monday in May July 4 first Monday in September second Monday in October November 11 fourth Thursday in November December 25

In 1971, the dates of many federal holidays were officially moved to the nearest Monday by thenPresident Richard Nixon. There are five holidays which are not necessarily celebrated on Mondays: Thanksgiving Day, Veterans Day, New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day. When New Year's Day, Independence Day, or Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, the next day is also a holiday. When one of these holidays falls on a Saturday, the previous day is also a holiday. Federal government offices, including the post office, are always closed on all federal holidays. Schools and businesses close on major holidays like Independence Day and Christmas Day but may not always be closed, for example, on President's Day or Veterans Day.

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Federal holidays are e observed according a to o the legislat tion of indiv vidual states s. The dates of these holidays s, and other rs, are decid ded upon by y each state governmen nt, not by th he federal (n national) governm ment. Each state s can ag gree on the same date that t the Pre esident has proclaimed, such as Thanksg giving Day. State legisl lation can a also change the date of f a holiday for its own n special commem moration. Cities C and to owns can d decide not to t celebrate a federal l legal holida ay at all. Howeve er, the major rity of the st tates (and th he cities and towns withi in them) usu ually choose e the date or day c celebrated by y the rest of f the nation . There are other "legal" or "public" " holidays which w are observed d at the stat te or local level. l The c closing of lo ocal governm ment offices and busine esses will vary. W Whether citizens have the e day off fro om work or not n depends on local dec cisions. 2. M Martin Luth her King Day y The Rev verend Dr. Martin M Luth her King, Jr. was a black clergyman who w is ranke ed among the t greatest t of black Americans because of f his crusade to win full civil rights for his peop ple. Preachin ng nonviole ence, much in n the same way as ha ad Mahatma a Gandhi of o India, Ma artin Luther King, Jr. sp poke and ca ampaigned t tirelessly to rid the Un nited States of f traditions and a laws tha at forced on n black Amer ricans the st tatus of secon nd-class citiz zens. Among g these laws s were those e in some st tates which r required bla ack people to take bac ck seats in buses or wh hich obstruct ted voting by y blacks. In the l late 1950s and early 1960s, 1 Afric can America ans, led by Dr. Martin L Luther King g, Jr., used bo oycotts, mar rches, and other o forms of o nonviolen nt protest to o demand equal tr reatment un nder the law w and an en nd to racial prejudice. A high poin nt of this civ vil rights moveme ent came on August 28, 1963, when n more than 200,000 peo ople of all rac ces gathered d in front of the L Lincoln Mem morial in Wa ashington, D D.C., to hear r King say: "I have a dre eam that on ne day on the red hills of Georgia the son ns of former slaves and the t sons of former f slave eholders wil ll be able to sit do own together at the tabl le of brother rhood....I ha ave a dream that my fou ur little child dren will one day y live in a nation n wher re they will not be jud dged by the color of th heir skin, bu ut by the content of their cha aracter." Not long g afterwards s the U.S. Co ongress passe ed laws proh hibiting disc crimination i in voting, ed ducation, employm ment, housin ng, and pub blic accomm modations. The world was w shocked when Dr. King K was assassina ated in 1968 8. Ever since e, special m memorial serv vices have marked m his b birthday on n January 15. By v vote of Cong gress, the th hird Monday y of every Ja anuary, begi inning in 19 986, is now a federal holiday in Dr. King' 's honor.

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3. W Washington n's Birthday (Presidents' Day) Accordin ng to the fe ederal gover rnment, the holiday obs served on th he third M Monday in Fe ebruary is officially o Wa ashington's Birthday. But many A Americans be elieve that th his holiday i is now calle ed "President ts' Day," in n honor of both b Preside ents Washin ngton and Li incoln, whose birthday ys are Feb. 22 and Feb. 12, 1 respectiv vely. In 1968, Congress passed p the Monday M Hol lidays Act, which w move ed the offic cial observan nce of Wash hington's birt thday from Feb. 22 to th he third M Monday in Fe ebruary. Som me reformer rs had want ted to chang ge the nam me of the hol liday as well, to Presiden nts' Day, in honor h of bot th Lincoln and Wash hington, bu ut that pro oposal was rejected by b Congres ss, and the holiday remained officially Washington n's Portrait o of George Birthday y. Washing gton. Published : c1828 by Created/P But in 1971, when n the Act went into effect, Pre esident Nixo on Pendleto on's Lithogra aphy. proclaim med the holi iday as Presi idents' Day, to commem morate all pa ast Housed i in the Prints s and presiden nts, not just Lincoln an nd Washingt ton. This id dea was never Photogra aphs Division of the intended d or authori ized by Cong gress; nevert rtheless, it ga ained a stron ng Library o of Congress hold on the public consciousnes c ss. Althoug gh some state es do celebr rate Presiden nts' Day as a state holida ay, it has ne ever been recognized at the fe ederal level. On the nati ional level, t the third Mo onday of February is the he official ob bservance of Wash hington's Bir rthday. 4. Memorial Day D

This hol liday, on the e last Monda ay of every May, is a da ay on which h America ans honor th he dead. Or riginally a d day on whic ch flags and d flowers were place ed on grav ves of soldi iers who died d in the e America an Civil War r, it has beco ome a day o on which the e dead of all l wars and d all other dead d are rem membered the e same way. . In 1971 1, along wi ith other holidays, Pre esident Rich hard Nixon n declared d Memorial Day a federal holiday on the last Monday in n May. C Cities all around a the United St tates hold their own n ceremon nies on the last l Monday y in May to pay respect t to the men n and wome en who have e died in wars or in the serv vice of their r country. I In many communities, special cere emonies are e held in cemeter ries or at mo onuments for the war de ead by veter rans of milit tary services s. Some hold d parades and oth hers hold memorial m ser rvices or sp pecial progr rams in chu urches, scho ools or othe er public meeting g places. Me emorial Day y is not lim mited to hon nor only tho ose America ans from th he armed forces. I It is also a da ay for personal rememb brance. Fami ilies and ind dividuals hon nor the mem mories of their lov ved ones wh ho have died d. Church ser rvices, visits s to the cemetery, flowe ers on graves s or even silent tribute mark the day with dignity an nd solemnity y. On Memo orial Day, th he President t or Vice Presiden nt of the Un nited States gives a spe eech and lay ys a wreath on the tom mbs. Members of the armed fo forces shoot a rifle salut te in the air . Veterans and a families come to lay y their own n wreaths and say prayers. It is a day of reflection. H However, to o many Am mericans the day also sig gnals the

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beginnin ng of summ mer with a th hree-day we eekend to spend s at the e beach, in t the mounta ains or at home re elaxing. 5. I Independen nce Day (July y 4) Indepen ndence Day y is regarded d as the bir rthday of th he United States as s a free and independen nt nation. M Most America ans simply call it th he "Fourth of f July," on which w date it t always falls s. The ho oliday reca alls the si igning of the Decla aration of Indepen ndence on Ju uly 4, 1776. At A that time e, the people e of the 13 British c colonies located along the t eastern coast of wh hat is now the Uni ited States were invol lved in a w war over what w they consider red unjust treatment by b the kin ng and parli iament in Britain. The war began b in 17 775. As the e war conti inued, the colonists s realized that t they were w fightin ng not just for better treatmen nt; they were fighting for f freedom m from Engla and's rule. The Dec claration of f Independence, signed d by leaders from the colonies s, stated this s clearly, an nd for the fi irst time in an official A display of f fireworks  the  documen nt the colon nies were re eferred to as s the United d States of illuminates t s  near the e  Statue of Liberty as  America a. It is a day y of picnics and patriot tic parades, a night of sky s  from Je ersey City, N.J. on  concerts s and firewo orks. The fly ying of the A American fl lag (which seen July J  4, 2004. .  also occu urs on Mem morial Day and a other ho olidays) is widespread. w On July 4, 1976, the e 200th ann niversary of t the Declarat tion of Independence w was marked by b grand festivals across the nation. n 6. L Labor Day This holiday, which h always is observed o on the first Monday of f September r has been a federal holiday since 1894, but was observed in som me places be efore that day as a result t of a campai ign by an early or rganization of o workers called the K Knights of Labor. L Its purpose is to o honor the nation's working g people. In many cities s the day is m marked by parades p of working w peo ople represen nting the labor un nions. Most Am mericans consider Labo or Day the e end of the su ummer, and d the beache es and other r popular resort ar reas are pac cked with people enjoy ying one last t three-day weekend. F For many stu udents it marks th he opening of o the school year.

Labor Day New  York 1882

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7. C Columbus Day D This day y commem morates Italia an navigato or Christoph her Columb bus' landing in the New w World on October O 12, 1492. Most nations of the t America as observe this t holiday y on Octobe er 12, but in the Unit ted States, a annual obse ervances tak ke place on n the secon nd Monday in October r. The major r celebration n of the day y takes place e in New Yo ork City, wh hich holds a huge parade e each year. 8. V Veterans Da ay Original lly called Armistice A Da ay, this holid day was est tablished to honor America ans who had d served in World W War I I. It falls on November 11, 1 the day whe en that war ended in 1918, but it no ow honors veterans v of al ll wars in which h the United d States has fought. f Veteran ns' organizat tions hold parades p or o other special l ceremonie es, and the president custom marily places a wreath o on the Tomb b of the Unknowns at Arlin ngton Natio onal Cemet tery, across s the Poto omac River from Washing gton, D.C. 9. T Thanksgivin ng Phot to courtesy of the  Defe ense Visual  Info rmation Cen nter

Thanksg giving Day is the fourth Thursda ay in Nove ember, but many America ans take a day d of vacati ion on the f following Friday to ma ake a four-d day weekend d, during which th hey may trav vel long dist tances to vis sit family and friends. The holiday dates back b to 1621 1, the year a after the Pur ritans arrive ed in Massac chusetts, det termined to pract tice their dis ssenting reli igion withou ut interference. After a rough win nter, in whic ch about half of t them died, they t turned d for help to o neighborin ng Indians, who taught t them how to plant corn and other cro ops. The nex xt fall's boun ntiful harve est inspired the Pilgrim ms to give th hanks by holding a feast.The Thanksgivi ing feast bec came a natio onal traditio on -- not on nly because so many other Am mericans ha ave found pr rosperity bu ut also becau use the Pilgr rims' sacrific ces for their freedom still capt tivate the im magination. To this day, Thanksgiving T g dinner alm most always includes som me of the fo oods served at the first t feast: roast t turkey, cra anberry sauc ce, potatoes, , pumpkin p pie. Before the t meal beg gins, familie es or friends usually pau use to give th hanks for the eir blessings s, including the joy of b being united d for the occ casion.

Photo  b by  Patricia  Walsh W   for  the t   U.S.  Census B Bureau
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10. C Christmas Christm mas is a most t important religious ho oly day for Christians, C who atte end special church c servi ices to celeb brate the bir rth of Jesus of Nazar reth. Christm mas is not onl ly a religious holy day, b but became one of the first fed deral holiday ys in 1870. On this day y most busin nesses and offices remain closed and th he greatest possible number n of workers s, including governmen nt employee es, have the e day off. Many pl laces even cl lose early on n the day bef fore. Naturall ly Christian ns observe Christmas s according g to the tradition ns of their particular chu urch. Beside es the strictly y religious tradition ns, however, other co ommon Chr ristmas pra actices are observed d by peopl le who are not religio ous or who o are not 2004 2  Capitoll Christmas Tree T Christian n. In this way, w some Christmas C tra aditions hav ve become America an traditions s. Gift-givi ing is so com mmon at Ch hristmas time e that for most m stores it means a sha arp increase e in sales. Stores, i in fact, are full fu of shopp pers from Th hanksgiving time in late e November until the da ay before Christm mas. This situ uation has ca aused many religious people to complain that th he religious meaning of Chris stmas is bein ng subverted d, that Chri stmas has become b "com mmercial." D Despite the criticism, c Christm mas shopping g is a major activity of m many Amer ricans in the e month of December. Gifts are given to o children, members m of the family and close fr riends. They y are given to people who w have done fav vors to others or who work w for them m. Some people bake co ookies or ma make candies or other special f food treats for friends and neighb bors. Many businesses give g their w workers a Christmas C "bonus" - gifts of ext tra money - to show app preciation fo or their work. Christmas s is also a tim me when most Am mericans sh how great ge enerosity to o other less fortunate th han they. T They send money m to hospitals s or orphana ages or contr ribute to fun nds that help p the poor. Most t Americans s send gree eting cards to their frien nds and fam mily at Chr ristmas tim me. Some peop ple who are e friends or r relatives and live great t distances from each other may y not be much h in contact t with each other durin ng year but will usually y exchange greeting ca ards and often n a Christm mas letter t telling their family news s. The decorating of homes fo or Christma as is very comm mon. Mos st America an who observe Holiday Shopper in New N  York City.  Chris stmas have a Christmas tree in thei ir homes. Photo by y Heather Sc chmaedeke for f  the U.S.  This may be a re eal evergreen n tree or an artificial Census B Bureau. one. In either case, c the tre ee is decora ated and trimmed d with sma all lights an nd ornamen nts. Other decorations d such as lig ghts and wr reaths of evergree en and signs s wishing a "Merry Chris stmas" can be b found insi ide and outs side of many y homes.
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11. O Other Celeb brations

Althoug gh the Unite ed States is young y compa ared to othe er countries, its cultu ure and trad ditions are rich becaus se of the co ontributions made by y the many groups of people who h have come to t its shores over the e past two centuries. c Hundreds H of regional ho olidays have originate ed from th he geography, climate e and histo ory of the different t parts of th he country. Each E state ho olds its own n annual fair r with loc cal themes and music; ; and some celebrate the t day on which th hey joined the Union an nd became a state. One oth her day that most Ameri icans observ ve, even thou ugh it is not an offici ial holiday, is February 14, Valentin ne's Day, na amed for an early Ch hristian mar rtyr whose feast f day wa as once obse erved on that day. On this day, Am mericans give spe ecial symbo olic gifts to people the ey love. The ey also send special gr greeting card ds called Valentin nes to such people. p Most t commonly y, the gifts ar re candy or flowers. f Other h holidays such h as "Groun ndhog Day" (February 2) 2 are whim msically obse erved, at lea ast in the media. T The day is as ssociated wi ith folklore w which has grown g up in rural Ameri ica. It is beli ieved, by some, if f the groundhog, or woo odchuck com mes out of its hole in the e ground an nd sees its sh hadow on that day y it will become frighte ened and jum mp back in. This means s there will be at least six more weeks of winter. If it i doesn't see e its shadow w, it will not be afraid an nd spring wil ll begin shor rtly. Flag Day y is observed d in the Uni ited States to o commemorate the ado option of the e Stars and Stripes S by the Continental Con ngress on Jun ne 14, 1777. .

US Flag g Day poster r 1917 

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12. Conclusion The United States does not have national holidays in the sense of days on which all employees in the U.S. receive a day free from work and all business is halted. The U.S. federal government can only recognize national holidays that pertain to its own employees; it is at the discretion of each state or local jurisdiction to determine official holiday schedules. There are eleven such federal holidays, ten annual and one quadrennial holiday. This is a list of National, Fun Days , Ethnic and Regional Celebrations of U.S: National Celebrations: New Year's Day (January 1) Martin Luther King Day (Third Monday in January) Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (February 12) Presidents' Day (Third Monday in February) George Washington's Birthday (February 22) Mother's Day (Second Sunday in May) Memorial Day(Last Monday in May) Flag Day (June 14) Father's Day (Third Sunday in June) Independence Day (July 4) Labor Day (First Monday in September) Columbus Day (Second Monday in October) Veterans' Day (November 11) Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November) Christmas Day (December 25)

Fun Days:  St. Valentine's Day (February 14) April Fool's Day (April 1) Halloween (October 31)    Ethnic and Regional Celebrations:  Chinese New Year (Sometime between January 21 ‐ February 19)  Mardi Gras (February/March)  St. Patrick's Day (March 17)  Cinco De Mayo(May 5)  Native American Pow‐Wows (March ‐ August) 

13. Bibliography http://www.statesymbolsusa.org http://usa.usembassy.de/ http://www.usa.gov/ http://en.wikipedia.org/
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