Holidays in America
The major federal, religious, traditional, and informal holidays celebrated in the United States.
* These holidays begin at sundown on the evening before the date given.
New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) and Day (Jan. 1)
A federal holiday in the United States, New Year's Day has its origin in Roman times, when sacrifices were offered to Janus, the two-faced Roman deity who looked back on the past and forward to the future.
The widely observed New Year Symbols and Traditions are:
• In the United States probably the most famous tradition is the dropping of
the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City, at 11:59 P.M.
Thousands gather to watch the ball make its one-minute descent, arriving
exactly at midnight. The tradition first began in 1907. The original ball was
made of iron and wood; the current ball is made of Waterford Crystal,
weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter.
• noisemaking and fireworks is believed to have originated in ancient
times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.
• wearing hats
• throwing confetti and streamers
• champagne toast
• midnight kiss
• to sing Auld Lang Syne (means "times gone by"). The most commonly
sung song for English- speakers on New Year's eve, "Auld Lang Syne" is
an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in
the 1796. But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, and not Robert Burns,
who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year's tradition. When
he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and
His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo
played the song at midnight at a New Year's eve party at the Roosevelt
Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born.
• making resolutions to improve oneself for the new year.
• is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Tournament of Roses
Parade that precedes the football game on New Year's Day is made up of
elaborate and inventive floats. The first parade was held in 1886.
• a traditional southern New Year's dish of Hoppin' John—black eyed peas
and ham hocks. An old saying goes, "Eat peas on New Year's day to have
plenty of everything the rest of the year."
Epiphany (Jan. 6)
A religious holiday, Epiphany (from Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation"), falls on the 12th day after Christmas. It commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the miracle of the wine at the marriage feast at Cana.
One of the three major Christian festivals, along with Christmas and Easter. Epiphany originally marked the beginning of the carnival season preceding Lent, and the evening preceding it is known as Twelfth Night. Hence the carol “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday (Mon., Jan. 21, 2008
A federal holiday observed on the third Monday in January that honors the late civil rights leader who was gunned down in Memphis on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39.
It became a federal holiday in 1986. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a United States holiday marking the birth date of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of three United States federal holidays to commemorate an individual person.
The Martin Luther King Day bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983, creating a federal holiday to honor King.
Muharram (Sat., Jan. 2008)
A religious holiday, the month of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic liturgical year, and is celebrated in a relatively quiet manner.
Al-Hijra / Muharram in 2008 will start on Wednesday, the 9th of January and will continue for 29 days until Wednesday, the 6th of February.
Based on sightability in North America, in 2008 Al-Hijra / Muharram will start in North America a day later - on Thursday, the 10th of January.
Note that in the Muslim calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Al-Hijra / Muharram on the sunset of Tuesday, the 8th of January.
In 2008 Al-Hijra / Muharram will occur twice! On the second occurance, it will start on Monday, the 29th of December and will continue for 29 days until Monday, the 26th of January, 2009.