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THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
TECHNICAL COLLEGE TURDA
SPECIALIZATION: MECATRONICS – ENGLISH
ENGLISH ATTESTATION PAPER
HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS IN THE
The celebrations and festivities of human communities reflect their cultural richness, history’s impact over the daily life as well as the social unity of that particular community and that people are regarded as a nation. The American people’s history dates no longer than XVIIth century, but in spite of this, due to its multi ethnical origin, it possesses a high variety of events and occurrences which have concretized over time in the emergence of a mixed heritage consisting in celebrations and holidays which are widespread at national and federal level.
I consider an interesting thing tracking the setting up manner and the recalling of the events that imprinted upon a so ethnical diverse people conscience. Although the American nation consists from the companionship and living together of a large number of ethnic groups originating from all over the world, it is to be highly remarked its self-awareness and nation identity of this people and, in this way, it was succeeded in legally and officially establishing some celebrations and commemorations in all the American Federation states. This fact serves as a good and remarkable example for some world countries which even if they are of a majority formed from a prevailing lineage (having the same descent) they do not possesss such a unity conscience (sense) based upon a common history such as the American nation.
Due to its ethnical richness it looks like a normal aspect that some local communities may adopt and keep various traditions, customs and festivals coming from their origin countries. Hence, many times they have been integrated in the nations trend or adopted diverse characteristics and peculiarities of the prevailing ethnical group, that of the anglo-saxon descendents.
The major American communities, besides the anglo-saxon ones, the Spanish colonizers descendents and the recently South-American Spanish speaking emigrants, as well as the formerly African slaves descendents, which are now resulted in full and legally granted American citizens; they all had the most prominent contribution in the establishing of the present days national widespread holidays and celebrations.
It is generally admitted and certain that some of the United States’ traditions and festivities hold and are continuously possessing a major cultural impact and influence even at global level over a large variety of European and also non European countries (mostly in South America and African regions).
It is clear that the fourth of July is a world renowned celebration which extends far beyond American borders and the Halloween and Saint Valentine’s Day exercise an indisputable influence, which is not easy to neglect especially over the young generations by the fact that they impose themselves as traditions evoking authentic accepted universal symbols.
II. AMERICANS’ HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS
culture people 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 flavour. In the
strict sense, there are no federal (national) holidays in the
The following ten holidays are proclaimed per year by the federal government:
New Year's Day
Martin Luther King’s Day
third Monday in January
third Monday in February
last Monday in May
first Monday in September
second Monday in October
second Monday in November
fourth Thursday in November
In 1971, the dates of many federal holidays were officially moved to the nearest Monday by Richard Nixon, then President. There are four holidays which are not necessarily celebrated on Mondays: Thanksgiving 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 Presidents' Day or Veterans' Day.
Federal holidays are observed according to the legislation of individual states. The dates of these holidays, and others, are decided upon by each state government, not by the federal (national) government. Each state can agree on the same date that the President has proclaimed, such as Thanksgiving Day. State legislation can also change the date of a holiday for its own special commemoration. Cities and towns can decide not to celebrate a federal legal holiday at all. However, the majority of the states (and the cities and towns within them) usually choose the date or day celebrated by the rest of the nation. There are other 'legal' or 'public' holidays which are observed at the state or local level. The closing of local government offices and businesses will vary. Whether citizens have the day off from work or not depends on local decisions.
Most of the
celebrating of New Year's Day takes place the night before, when Americans
gather in homes, restaurants or other public places to enjoy good food and to
wish each other a happy and prosperous year ahead. Balloons and paper
streamers, fire crackers and other noisemakers are all around at midnight when
the old year passes away and the New Year arrives. Thousands throng to the Times Square celebration in New York
to count down to the New Year - a celebration that's carried live on TV
networks across the
'Happy New Year!' This greeting
will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year
gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern
celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first
observed in ancient
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops and of blossoming. January 1st, on the other hand, has no astronomical or agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1st to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1st as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
2. Martin Luther King’s Day
the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke and campaigned tirelessly to rid
In the late
1950s and early 1960s, African Americans, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
used boycotts, marches and other forms of non-violent protest to demand equal
treatment under the law and an to end racial prejudice. A
'I have a dream that one day on the red
Not long afterwards the U.S. Congress passed laws prohibiting discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing and public accommodations.
The world was shocked when Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Ever since, special memorial services have marked his birthday on January 15th. By vote of Congress, the third Monday of every January, beginning from 1986, is now a federal holiday in Dr. King's honour.
3. Presidents’ Day
mid-1970s, February 22nd, the birthday of George Washington, hero of
the Revolutionary War and first president of the
1970s, Congress declared that in order to honour all past presidents of the
4. Memorial Day
This holiday, on the fourth Monday of every May, is a day on which Americans honour the fallen soldiers. Originally a day in which flags and flowers were placed on graves of soldiers who died in the American Civil War, it has become a day in which the dead of all wars are remembered the same way.
along with other holidays, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a
federal holiday on the last Monday in May. Cities all around the
Day, the President or Vice President of the
However, to many Americans the day also signals the beginning of summer with a three-day weekend to spend at the beach, in the mountains or at home relaxing.
5. Independence Day
Day is regarded as the birthday of the
recalls the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July
4th, 1776. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies located along
the Eastern coast of what is now the United States were involved in a war over
what they considered unjust treatment by the king and parliament in Britain. The
war began in 1775. As the war continued, the colonists realized that they were
fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from
It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag (which also occurs on Memorial Day and other holidays) is widespread. On July 4th, 1976, the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence was marked by grand festivals across the nation.
Independence Day 2001 commemorated the 225th anniversary of the signing of the
6. Labor Day
This holiday, which is always observed on the first Monday of September has been a federal holiday since 1894, but was observed in some places before that day as a result of a campaign by an early organization of workers called the Knights of Labor. Its purpose is to honour the nation's working people. In many cities the day is marked by parades of working people representing the labour unions.
The celebration of Labor Day was first
suggested by Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. It was initiated in the
Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, so the beaches and other popular resort areas are packed with people enjoying one last three-day weekend. For many students it marks the opening of the school year.
7. Columbus Day
day commemorates the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus' landing in the
recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the
anniversary of the event, however, inspired the first official Columbus Day
holiday in the
8. Veteran’s Day
called Armistice Day, this holiday
was established to honour Americans who had served in World War I. It falls on
11th November, the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honours
veterans of all wars in which the
organizations hold parades or other special ceremonies and the president
customarily places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at
Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honour veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the Nation's history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word 'Armistice' and inserting in lieu thereof the word 'Veterans'. With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on 1st June 1954, 11th November became a day to honour American veterans of all wars. Later that same year, on 8th October, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first 'Veterans Day Proclamation'.
Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November, but many Americans take a day of vacation on the following Friday to make a four-day weekend, during which they may travel long distances to visit family and friends.
dates back to 1621, the year after the Puritans arrived in
The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition, not only because so many other Americans have found prosperity but also because the Pilgrims' sacrifices for their freedom still captivate the imagination.
To this day, Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes and pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion.
The American Thanksgiving holiday began as a feast of thanksgiving in the early days of the American colonies almost four hundred years ago.
In 1620, a
boat filled with more than one hundred people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean
to settle in the
In the autumn of 1621, bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 Indians. The Indians brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. The colonists had learned how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn and squash dishes from the Indians. To this first Thanksgiving, the Indians had even brought popcorn.
following years, many of the original colonists celebrated the autumn harvest
with a feast of thanks. After the
Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November, a different date every year. The President must proclaim that date as the official celebration.
In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt set it one week earlier. He wanted to help business by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. Congress ruled that after 1941 the 4th Thursday in November would be a federal holiday proclaimed by the President each year.
Symbols of Thanksgiving
is a time for tradition and sharing. Even if they live far away, family members
gather for a reunion at the house of an older relative. All give thanks
together for the good things that they have. In this spirit of sharing, civic
groups and charitable organizations offer a traditional meal to those in need,
particularly the homeless. On most tables throughout the
cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly was on the first Thanksgiving table and is
still served today. The cranberry is a small, sour berry. It grows in bogs or
muddy areas, in
In 1988, a
Thanksgiving ceremony of a different kind took place at the Cathedral of St.
John the Divine. More than four thousand people gathered on Thanksgiving night.
Among them were Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country
and descendants of people whose ancestors had migrated to the
a most important religious holy day for Christians, who attend special church
services to celebrate the birth of Jesus from
Naturally Christians observe Christmas according to the traditions of their particular church. Besides the strictly religious traditions, however, other common Christmas practices are observed by people who are not religious or who are not Christian. In this way, some Christmas traditions have become American traditions.
Gift-giving is so common at Christmas time that for most stores it means a sharp increase in sales. Stores, in fact, are full of shoppers from Thanksgiving time in late November until the day before Christmas. This situation has caused many religious people to complain that the religious meaning of Christmas is being subverted, that Christmas has become 'commercial'. Despite the criticism, Christmas shopping is a major activity of many Americans in the month of December. Gifts are given to children, members of the family and close friends. They are given to people who have done favors to others or who work for them. Some people bake cookies or make candies or other special food treats for friends and neighbours. Many businesses give their workers a Christmas 'bonus' - gifts of extra money - to show appreciation for their work. Christmas is also a time when most Americans show great generosity to other less fortunate than them. They send money to hospitals or orphanages or contribute to funds that help the poor.
Most Americans send greeting cards to their friends and family at Christmas time. Some people who are friends or relatives and live great distances from each other may not be much in contact with each other during year, but will usually exchange greeting cards and often a Christmas letter telling their family news.
The decorating of homes for Christmas is very common. Most American who observe Christmas have a Christmas tree in their homes. This may be a real evergreen tree or an artificial one. In either case, the tree is decorated and decorated with small lights and ornaments. Other decorations such as lights and wreaths of evergreen and signs wishing a 'Merry Christmas' can be found inside and outside of many homes.
The tradition of Christmas carols hails back as far as the thirteenth century, although carols were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like harvest tide as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in churches and to be specifically associated with Christmas.
The tradition of singing carols can be traced back to the monk St.
Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like 'Personent hodie' and 'Angels from the Realms of Glory' can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages and are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung.
Popular Christmas carols symbolize everything that Christmas stands for: they gather the family, bring joy, spread the word about Christmas and make everyone feel the Christmas spirit. Try to hum the melody of “Jingle Bells” and most people in the northern hemisphere will immediately imagine seeing snowflakes, angels and Christmas bells.
III. ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
People of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, for example, observe all of their traditional holy days, with employers showing consideration by allowing them to take days off so they can observe their traditions.
Easter, which falls on a spring Sunday that varies
from year to year, celebrates the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus
Christ. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and the gathering
of family. As a part of Easter traditions in the
Many Americans follow old traditions of coloring
hard-boiled eggs and giving children baskets of candy. On the next day, Easter
Monday, the president of the
is a major religious festival of Christians that is celebrated in a grand
manner with a big party time celebration. Every nation has its own way of
celebrating a particular festivity. Every country has some peculiar traditions
and customs. For example it is the tradition of
Some customs which hark back to traditions of
other countries lend a great deal of colour to American life. The celebration
of Mardi Gras - the day before the Christian season of Lent begins in late
winter - is a tradition in
places, other ethnic groups sponsor parades or other events of great interest,
adding pageantry and merriment to American life. An example is St.
Patrick's Day in the
In areas where Americans of Chinese descent live and especially in the Chinatown sections of New York City and San Francisco, California, people sponsor traditional Chinese New Year's celebrations with feasts, parades and fireworks.
African Americans have begun to observe Kwanzaa, a holiday based on the African celebration of the first harvest of the year, December 26th through January 1st. Developed in 1966, by a black studies professor at California State University, Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa celebrates the unity and development of the African community.
Founded upon the 'Nguzo
Saba' or the seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective
work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith,
Kwanzaa encourages African Americans to think about their African roots in
addition to their present-day life in
Halloween, the last day of October, has a special significance for children, who dress in funny or ghostly costumes and knock on neighbourhood doors shouting 'Trick or Treat!' Pirates and princesses, ghosts and witches all hold bags open to catch the candy or other goodies that the neighbours drop in.
Since the 800's 1st November is a religious holiday known as All Saints' Day. The Mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as All Hallow e'en, or Halloween. Like some other American celebrations, its origins lie in both pre-Christian and Christian customs.
Today school dances and neighbourhood parties called 'block parties' are popular among young and old alike. More and more adults celebrate Halloween. They dress up as historical or political figures and go to masquerade parties. In larger cities, costumed children and their parents gather at shopping malls early in the evening. Stores and businesses give parties with games and treats for the children. Teenagers enjoy costume dances at their schools and the more outrageous the costume the better.
Certain pranks such as soaping car windows and tipping over garbage cans are expected. But partying and pranks are not the only things that Halloweeners enjoy doing. Some collect money to buy food and medicine for needy children around the world.
Symbols of Halloween
Halloween is originated as a celebration connected with evil spirits. Witches flying on broomsticks with black cats, ghosts, goblins and skeletons have all evolved as symbols of Halloween. They are popular trick-or-treat costumes and decorations for greeting cards and windows. Black is one of the traditional Halloween’s colors, probably because Halloween festivals and traditions took place at night. In the weeks before October 31st, Americans decorate windows of houses and schools with silhouettes of witches and black cats.
also a symbol of Halloween. The pumpkin is an orange-colored squash and orange
has become the other traditional Halloween’s color. Carving pumpkins into
jack-o'-lanterns is a Halloween custom also dating back to
IV. OTHER CELEBRATIONS
An other day which most Americans observe, even though it is not an official holiday, is February 14th, Valentine's Day, named after an early Christian martyr whose feast day was once observed on that day. On this day, Americans give special symbolic gifts to people they love. They also send special greeting cards called Valentines to such people. Most commonly, the gifts are candy or flowers.
Other holidays such as Groundhog Day, February 2nd, are
whimsically observed, at least in the media. The day is associated with
folklore which has grown up in rural
Flag Day is observed in the
In XVIth century
'The 1st of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” said the American humorist Mark Twain.
On the second Sunday in May, American children of all ages treat
their mothers to something special. It is the one day out of the year when
children, young and old, try to show in a tangible way how much they appreciate
Even if recently dating, the American culture
comprises a large variety of traditions and holidays. The American government
instituted a certain number of official (legally accepted) holidays and events,
but also permitting improvements, diversifications and enrichments according to
the local conditions of each federal state. Each one of the 50 American states
holds its own peculiarities in connection with their historical and cultural
traditions leading to the emergence of some of the most original celebrations,
festivities and fairs. The legally established American holidays, instituted by
the federal government are being held by all of the American states and they
recall outstanding events for all the Americans, regardless of their ethnic
origin and for
Nevertheless, a series of celebrations possesses a local restriction and limitation and they evoke various happenings or traditions imprinted upon a group of people across the time, being part of the daily life of some local communities, which didn’t have the opportunity to extend and develop at the federal level.
deny the fact that the
conclusion, we must admit the fact that the
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