People in each country celebrate holidays. Although the word holiday means “holy day”, most American holidays are not religious, but commemorative in nature and origin. In strict sense, there are no national holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states establishes its own legal holidays. The federal government, through the president and Congress, can legally set holidays only for federal employees and for the District of Columbia. Most states, however, accept the federal legal holidays.
Holidays for all federal offices, most state and local government offices, and many (not all) businesses are: New Year’s Day (January 1), Martin Luther King’s Birthday (3rd Monday in January), Washington’s Birthday, sometimes called “President’s Day” (3rd Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4th), Labor Day (1st Monday in September), Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October), Veteran’s Day (November 11th), Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November), and Christmas Day (December 25th).
Martin Luther King’s Day In the late 1950s and early 1960s, African Americans, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used boycotts, marches, and other forms of nonviolent protest to demand equal treatment under the law and an end to racial prejudice. 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 15. By vote of Congress, the third Monday of every January, beginning in 1986, is now a federal holiday in Dr. King's honor.
Presidents' Day According to the federal government, the holiday observed on the third Monday in February is officially Washington's Birthday. But many Americans believe that this holiday is now called "Presidents' Day," in honor of both Presidents Washington and Lincoln. Although some states do celebrate Presidents' Day as a state holiday, it has never been recognized at the federal level. On the national level, the third Monday of February is the official observance of Washington's Birthday.
Memorial Day This holiday, on the last Monday of every May, is a day on which Americans honor the dead. Originally a day on which flags and flowers were placed on graves of soldiers who died in the American Civil War, it has become a day on which the dead of all wars and all other dead are remembered the same way. In 1971, along with other holidays, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday on the last Monday in May. Families and individuals honor the memories of their loved ones who have died. Church services, visits to the cemetery, flowers on graves or even silent tribute mark the day with dignity and solemnity. On Memorial Day, the President or Vice President of the United States gives a speech and lays a wreath on the tombs. Members of the armed forces shoot a rifle salute in the air.
Labor Day On September 5th , 1882, the first Labor Day parade was held in New Yorks. Today some cities have parades and community picnics. This holiday, which always is 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 honor the nation's working people. In many cities the day is marked by parades of working people representing the labor unions. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, and 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.
Columbus Day This day commemorates Italian navigator Christopher Columbus' landing in the New World on October 12, 1492. He discovered the American continent by accident and called the natives the “Indians” and the islands he explored the “West Indies”, which bear this name today. Most nations of the Americas observe this holiday on October 12, but in the United States, annual observances take place on the second Monday in October. The major celebration of the day takes place in New York City, which holds a huge parade each year. This event is widely celebrated in most Latin American countries as well.
Veterans Day Originally called Armistice Day, this holiday was established to honor Americans who had served in World War I. It falls on November 11, the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honors veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought. Veterans' organizations hold parades or other special ceremonies, and the president customarily places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D. C.