Вариант 1

Holidays in the USA.
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 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 holiday, and many churches have an outdoor sunrise service.
People give each other presents of coloured or even decorated eggs which are the symbol of new life. There is a popular belief that wearing three new things on Easter will bring good luck throughout the year.
Memorial Day, May, 30th:
It is a national holiday. Schools, banks and offices close for the day. On that day, Americans honour the servicemen who gave their lives in past wars. Schools, clubs and churches decorate the cemeteries. They put up the flags on the graves of the army, navy and airmen. They hold memorial services in churches, halls, parks and cemeteries.
In addition to solemn services Memorial Day is often marked by other, more joyful ceremonies: colourful parades, sports competitions.
Independence Day, July, 4th:
On this day, in 1776, America signed the Declaration of Independence. It is a national public holiday celebrated with fireworks and speeches praising "Americanism, democracy, free enterprise".
Labor Day, the first Monday in September:
It is a holiday of recreation. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Vacation time is over. Resorts, camps and beaches close ... Parents go to summer camps and take their children back home.
Halloween, October, 31st:
Halloween is the day or evening before All Saints' Day. Halloween customs date back to a time when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts. They thought that these evil spirits could do all kinds of damage to property. Some people tried to ward off witches by painting magic signs on their barns. Others tried to scare them away by nailing a piece of iron, such as a horseshoe, over the door.
Now most people do not believe in evil spirits. On this day they just have a nice holiday. Children dress up as ghosts and witches and go out into the streets to beg.
They go from house to house and say: "Trick of treat!", meaning "Give me a treat or I'll play a trick on you". People give them candy, cookies and apples.
A favourite custom is to make a jack-o'-lantem. Children scrape out a pumpkin and cut the outlines of eyes, nose and mouth in its side. They light a candle inside the pumpkin to scare their friends. This custom refers to a man named Jack who still wanders around the earth lighting his way with a pumpkin lantern.
Veterans Day:
On this day, the radio and television broadcast services held at the National Cemetery in Arlington. High officials come from Washington to attend these services.
They place a wreath of flowers at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All stand in silence for a few minutes at eleven o'clock to honour the memory of the servicemen killed in the two World Wars.
Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November:
In the USA it is a national holiday. It was first celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrim Fathers after their first good harvest.
Thanksgiving is a family day, for it is customary for all members of the family to gather at the home of their parents. The family eats a large traditional dinner, usually with turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
Christmas Day, December, 25th:
It is usually a one-day official holiday, but it is preceded and followed by festive parties, and marked by special church services, gift-giving and feasting.
Christmas is a family holiday. Schools and colleges close between Christmas and New-Year's Day. People stay at home and spend the time with their families.
Everybody tries to come home for Christmas. People send cards or Christmas greetings to family and friends away from home. Every family tries to have a Christmas tree, which is beautifully decorated. Santa Claus comes from the North Pole in his sleigh, dressed in red cap and jacket, entering the house from chimney. He is a merry and fat individual. He has gifts of whatever kind you may wish for — nothing is too fabulous nor too trivial for him to provide.

Вариант 2

Holidays in the USA.
Americans celebrate a variety of federal holidays and other national observances throughout the year. American holidays can be secular, religious, international, or uniquely American.

The following are American federal holidays and other common national observances.

New Year's Day is January 1. The celebration of this federal holiday begins the night before, when Americans gather to wish each other a happy and prosperous coming year. Many Americans make New Year's resolutions.

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was an African-American clergyman who is recognized for his tireless efforts to win civil rights for all people through nonviolent means.

Groundhog Day is February 2, and has been celebrated since 1887. On Groundhog Day, crowds gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see if groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow after emerging from his burrow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter weather.

Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14. The day was named after an early Christian martyr, and on Valentine's Day, Americans give presents like candy or flowers to the ones they love. The first mass-produced valentine cards were sold in the 1840s.

Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday observed the third Monday of February to honor George Washington, the first President of the United States. This date is commonly called Presidents' Day and many groups honor the legacy of past presidents on this date.

Easter falls on a spring Sunday that varies from year to year. Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and the gathering of family. Many Americans follow old traditions of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving children baskets of candy.

Earth Day is observed on April 22. First celebrated in 1970 in the United States, it inspired national legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Earth Day is designed to promote ecology, encourage respect for life on earth, and highlight concern over pollution of the soil, air, and water.

National Arbor Day was proclaimed as the last Friday in April by President Richard Nixon in 1970. A number of state Arbor Days are observed at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north. The observance began in 1872, when Nebraska settlers and homesteaders were urged to plant trees on the largely treeless plains.

Mother's Day celebrates mothers every second Sunday of May. President Woodrow Wilson, who issued a proclamation in 1914, asked Americans to give a public expression of reverence to mothers on this day. Carnations have come to represent Mother's Day, following President William McKinley's habit of always wearing a white carnation, his mother's favorite flower.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed the last Monday of May. It originally honored the people killed in the American Civil War, but has become a day on which the American dead of all wars, and the dead generally, are remembered in special programs held in cemeteries, churches, and other public meeting places. The flying of the American flag is widespread.

Flag Day, celebrated June 14, has been a presidentially proclaimed observance since 1916. Although Flag Day is not a federal holiday, Americans are encouraged to display the flag outside their homes and businesses on this day to honor the history and heritage the American flag represents.

Father's Day celebrates fathers every third Sunday of June. Father's Day began in 1909 in Spokane, Washington, when a daughter requested a special day to honor her father, a Civil War veteran who raised his children after his wife died. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson.

Independence Day is July 4. This federal holiday honors the nation's birthday - the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag is widespread.

Labor Day is the first Monday of September. This federal holiday honors the nation's working people, typically with parades. For most Americans it marks the end of the summer vacation season and the start of the school year.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October. The day commemorates October 12, 1492, when Italian navigator Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. The holiday was first proclaimed in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31. On Halloween, American children dress up in funny or scary costumes and go "trick or treating" by knocking on doors in their neighborhood. The neighbors are expected to respond by giving them small gifts of candy or money.

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11. Originally called Armistice Day, this federal holiday was established to honor Americans who had served in World War I, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the U.S. has fought. Veterans' organizations hold parades, and the president places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. The holiday began in 1621, when Puritans, who had just enjoyed a bountiful harvest, showed their gratitude to the Native Americans for their help by hosting a feast to give thanks. The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition and almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is December 7. In 1994, Congress designated this national observance to honor the more than 2,400 military service personnel who died on this date in 1941, during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese forces. The attack on Pearl Harbor caused the United States to enter World War II.

Christmas Day is a federal holiday celebrated on December 25. Christmas is a Christian holiday marking the birth of the Christ Child. Decorating houses and yards with lights, putting up Christmas trees, giving gifts, and sending greeting cards have become traditions even for many non-Christian Americans.
Other Celebrations

Various ethnic and religious groups in America celebrate days with special meaning to them even though these are not national holidays. Jews, for example, observe their high holy days in September, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, Irish Americans celebrate the old country's patron saint, St. Patrick, on March 17, and Mardi Gras is the day before the Christian season of Lent begins and is a big occasion in New Orleans, Louisiana, where huge parades and wild revels take place. There are many other such religious and ethnic celebrations in the United States.


Last Updated (Friday, 19 February 2010 16:49)