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TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………………………………1

CHAPTER 1 – TRADITIONS…………………………………………………………………………….2
1.1 BAPTISM TRADITIONS………………………………………………………………………..2
1.2 WEDDING TRADITIONS………………………………………………………………………3
1.3 FUNERAL TRADITIONS ………………………………………………………………………5

CHAPTER 2 – HOLIDAYS……………………………………………………………………………….7
2.1 WORLDWIDE TRADITIONS
• CHRISTMAS………………………………………………………………………………………7
• EASTER……………………………………………………………………………………………8
• NEW YEAR………………………………………………………………………………………...9

2.2 SPECIFIC AMERICAN TRADITIONS


• GROUNDHOG DAY……………………………………………………………………………..11
• HALLOWEEN……………………………………………………………………………………11
• MARDI GRAS……………………………………………………………………………………12
• MOTHER’S DAY………………………………………………………………………………...12
• TOOTH FAIRY…………………………………………………………………………………..13
• VALENTINE’S DAY…………………………………………………………………………….13

2.3NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
• INDEPENDENCE DAY…………………………………………………………..………….…..15
• THANCKSGIVING DAY…………………………………………………………………..……16
• SUPER BOWL SUNDAY…………………………………………………………………..……18
• MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY……………………………………………………….……..…18
CHAPTER 3 . THE POWER OF TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS…………………………….……20
CONCLUSIONS………………………………………………………………………………………….21
BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………………………………..…….22
INTRODUCTION

I am going to talk about American holidays and traditions and first of all I have to tell you that I
found it quite difficult to justify what a tradition is or it is not. According to the dictionary, a tradition is a
belief, principle or way of acting which people in a particular society or group have continued to follow
for a long time, or all of these beliefs. In my opinion, a tradition is something like a habit that persons
follow in the same period of every year.
Thinking of holiday, this can be definable as a time, often one or two weeks, when someone does not
go to work or school, but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax. On my acceptance, holidays
are days set apart for religious observance or for the commemoration of some extraordinary event or
distinguished person, or for some other public occasion. Holidays are important for most people, because
they are occasions for them to get together with their families and to celebrate, forgetting for a couple of
moments all their daily problems.
In accordance with this, traditions vary from place to place and with the USA being such a huge
country it is just natural that there are other traditions in the north than there are in the south. So I tried to
find traditions that are spread across the country or at least known across the fifty states.
Further more, there are traditions and holidays that have a history and used to be big one day, but
lost their importance as time went by. I tried to pick the traditions and holidays that are of importance to
the average American citizen.

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Chapter 1. TRADITIONS

1.1 BAPTISM TRADITIONS

Talking about baptism, this is a sacrament of admission to the Christian Church. The forms and
rituals of the various churches vary, but Baptism almost invariably involves the use of water and the
Trinitarian invocation: ”I baptize you: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit .”The candidate may be wholly or partly immersed in water, the water may be poured over the head
or a few drops may be sprinkled or placed on the head.
Ritual immersion has traditionally played an important part in Judaism, as a symbol of purification
(in the mikvah, a postmenstrual or ritual bath used by women) or as symbol of consecration (in rituals of
conversion, accompanied by special prayers).
According to the Gospels, John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Although there is no actual account of the
institution of Baptism by Jesus, the Gospel According to Matthew portrays the risen Christ issuing the
“Great Commission” to his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).
However, for example in the Louisiana Delta region, baptism in a river is maintained. Firstly, in
preparation for the baptism, the "Mothers of the Church" must make or otherwise obtain the traditional
robes to fit each candidate. The actual design of the long flowing cotton gowns with long sleeves may
vary slightly with the community, but most of them are sewn on machines from handed-down, traditional
patterns cut from newspaper. These gowns have two narrow, torn strips of fabric tied around the gown-
one around the waist and another below the knees, which function to keep the robe in place over the legs.
Some believe that these ties represent the bonds of sin, and that after baptism, their removal signifies the
freedom from sin and rebirth. Just before the service begins, the mothers help the candidates put on the
robes usually over old clothes.
Secondly, the baptismal candidates are lined up, youngest first, by the church mothers. Before the
baptisms actually begin, one or more of the church deacons wade out into the water with stakes to poke
the water bottom for a safe spot where the water is not too deep, nor the bottom too boggy or dangerous;
usually about waist-deep on a man is considered to be safe. After the safe location has been determined,
the deacons push the three stakes into the river bottom, forming a safe arc for the ritual. After the opening
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sermon, the candidates are then escorted to the minister one by one. The minister folds the candidate's
hands in prayer, and covers the candidate's face. As he baptizes each one, the minister repeats a ritual
statement, which may vary with ministers. The candidate is immersed in the water. As each candidate is
brought up out of the water, the congregation applauds and sings refrains from favourite baptismal songs
such as "Take me to the Water," "I know I've Got Religion". Thirdly, the services are generally spirit-
filled, with many of the congregation becoming overwhelmed, singing, shouting praises, and shedding
tears of joy as they watch their children being baptized.
Thirdly, when the baptized come out of the water, they are gathered up into waiting arms and
covered in large sheets and towels to protect them from the air and then whisked away to dress, often in
white Sunday clothes, behind sheet curtains up the riverbank; then they are brought back to witness the
remaining baptisms.

Finally, the baptism is followed by a gathering at the church building for fellowship. Upon returning
to the church, the converts may still wear a white bandanna or handkerchief on their heads until they are
fellowshipped into the church. By continuing this ritual, churches are insuring that future generations will
have the opportunity to share that glorious memory.

1.2 WEDDING TRADITIONS

The United States has few wedding traditions that are totally unique to the U.S.A. Virtually all
U.S.A. wedding traditions and customs have either been taken directly from a wide range of other
countries and cultures – primarily European – or they have evolved from traditions in other nations. In
truth, many people still retain many of their ethnic wedding traditions, and this, too, has become part and
parcel of the “American” wedding ceremony. In the U.S. people are very comfortable in allowing a wide
diversity of traditions and ceremonies. There are a few things that all U.S. weddings have in common.
Talking about how people agree to marry each other, I can say that marriages are not “arranged.” A
typical U.S. wedding takes place between two people who have sought out a partner and have found
someone whom they believe they can share their life with. In other words, in the United States marriages
are based on love. They are not arranged to strengthen family business or influence. Old wedding
traditions may have held that a prospective groom had to ask the bride’s father for his blessing, but that
tradition is seldom respected any longer, if it was ever respected to a wide degree in the U.S. While a
young man and a young woman hope that both sets of parents will give their blessing to a union, and often

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a blessing will be asked more as a courtesy than for an actual blessing, such a blessing is not required or
always sought.
To begin with, U.S. wedding ceremonies may be either religious or civil. Most brides prefer a large
and rather elaborate ceremony if it is their first wedding .Wedding planning can be elaborate and time-
consuming and many brides today opt to have a professional wedding planner take care of the thousand-
and-one details of the glorious day. A Traditional United States wedding is a fairly large and elaborate
affair, especially when it is the first wedding for the bride. Traditionally the bride wears a white wedding
dress and white wedding veil.
Furthermore, prior to the wedding itself, it is traditional for the maid of honor to throw a bridal
shower as part of the bridal ceremonies. During the bridal shower the bride-to-be will receive small gifts,
often of a humorous nature, often gifts for use on the honeymoon.

Secondly, while a religious setting, such as a church, synagogue or mosque is not mandatory, the
more traditional U.S. weddings do take place in a religious setting. Family and friends are formally
invited. Ushers seat guests, there are bride’s maids, a best man, flower girls, a ring bearer, music (often
chosen by the bride and/or the groom) and many other amenities designed to make the day special and
memorable.

Thirdly, the traditional ceremony itself is often conducted by a religious leader known to the bride
and/or the groom. The ceremony may include wedding vows written by the bride and the groom, in which
they speak of their love and their desire to make their partner safe, happy and secure, and to be faithful to
their partner and their partner alone for the rest of their lives.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, it is traditional for the official to ask if anyone present knows of
any just cause why this man and this woman may not be legally married. Getting no response, the official
asks the couple to exchange wedding rings, a symbol of their never-ending love and commitment to one
another, and then the happy couple is pronounced, in front of family and friends (witnesses) to be husband
and wife. Traditionally the newlyweds kiss to seal their union.

Then, as the couple leave the church they are often showered with rice or wheat (symbols of
fertility) and the couple is then taken to a home, restaurant or other facility where a wedding reception
takes place. Speeches and toasts are given to the new couple, wishing them happiness.

Finally, Following the reception the couple traditionally goes on a honeymoon, during which their
marriage is consummated. A honeymoon may last from several days to two or more weeks.

An important part of the U.S.A. wedding tradition is gifts. These are given to help the new couple
establish a new home together; often gifts of cash are given. A couple may “register” at a specific store
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where their gift needs are tracked. This allows well-wishers to not only purchase gifts that are truly useful
to the new couple, but to also be assured that no one else has purchased the same gift.

Alternatively, couples who do not wish to go through the stress of an elaborate traditional wedding
ceremony may choose to elope. An elopement involves much less work and much less preparation. The
couple merely goes to a justice of the peace and is quietly married in a civil wedding ceremony. They
may or may not include a small number or friends and/or family.

While American wedding traditions exist, there are no rigid rules one must follow to plan a beautiful
wedding. A white dress, faith based ceremony, reception & honeymoons are all American wedding
traditions, but they are by no means set in stone. You can plan your wedding when you want and how you
want it, perhaps that is the best American wedding tradition!

1.3 FUNERAL TRADITIONS

From colonial days until the nineteenth century, the American funeral was almost exclusively a
family affair, in the sense that the family and close friends performed most of the duties in connection
with the dead body itself. Until the eighteenth century, few people except the very rich were buried in
coffins. The “casket,” and particularly the metal casket, is a phenomenon of modern America, unknown in
past days and in other parts of the world. Funeral flowers, today the major mourning symbol and a huge
item of national expenditure, did not make their appearance in England or America until after the middle
of the nineteenth century, and only then over the opposition of church leaders. The funeral rituals can be
divided into four parts: preparation of the corps, visitation, funeral, and the burial service.
First of all, preparation of the corpse is usually most elaborate in the case of burial, but it is a general
practice to wash and clothe the body. Many of the observances connected with death recall the rites of
passage associated with other life crises. The body is traditionally dressed in the decedent's best clothes. In
recent times there has been more variation in what the decedent is dressed in - some people choose to be
dressed in clothing more reflective of how they dressed in life. The body will often be adorned with
common jewellery, such as watches, necklaces, brooches, etc. The jewellery may be taken off and given
to the family of the deceased or remain in the casket after burial. Jewellery will most likely be removed
before cremation. The body may or may not be embalmed, depending upon such factors as the amount of
time since the death has occurred, religious practices, or requirements of the place of burial but in general
embalming is preferable.
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Secondly, at the visitation (also called a "viewing" or "wake") the body of the deceased person (or
decedent) is placed on display in the casket (also called a coffin, however almost all body containers are
caskets). The viewing often takes place on one or two evenings before the funeral. The viewing is either
"open casket", in which the embalmed body of the deceased has been clothed and treated with cosmetics
for display; or "closed casket", in which the coffin is closed. The coffin may be closed if the body was too
badly damaged because of an accident or fire or other trauma, deformed from illness or if someone in the
group is emotionally unable to cope with viewing the corpse. A visitation is often held the evening before
the day of the funeral. However, when the deceased person is elderly the visitation may be held
immediately preceding the funeral. This allows elderly friends of the deceased a chance to view the body
and attend the funeral in one trip, since it may be difficult for them to arrange travel; this step may also be
taken if the deceased has few survivors or the survivors want a funeral with only a small number of guests.
Thirdly, the deceased is usually transported from the funeral home to a church in a hearse, a
specialized vehicle designed to carry casketed remains. The deceased is often transported in a procession
(also called a funeral cortege), with the hearse, funeral service vehicles, and private automobiles travelling
in a procession to the church or other location where the services will be held. In a number of
jurisdictions, special laws cover funeral processions - such as requiring other vehicles to give right-of-way
to a funeral procession. Funeral service vehicles may be equipped with light bars and special flashers to
increase their visibility on the roads. They may also all have their headlights on, to identify which vehicles
are part of the cortege, although the practice also has roots in ancient Roman customs. After the funeral
service, if the deceased is to be buried the funeral procession will proceed to a cemetery if not already
there. If the deceased is to be cremated the funeral procession may then proceed to the crematory. In many
religious traditions, pallbearers, usually males who are close, but not immediate relatives (such as cousins,
nephews or grandchildren) or friends of the decedent, will carry the casket from the chapel (of a funeral
home or church) to the hearse, and from the hearse to the site of the burial service. The pallbearers often
sit in a special reserved section during the memorial service.
Finally, the burial services commonly include prayers, readings from the Bible or other sacred texts,
hymns (sung either by the attendees or a hired vocalist) and words of comfort by the clergy. Frequently, a
relative or close friend will be asked to give a eulogy, which details happy memories and
accomplishments. Often commenting on the deceased's flaws, especially at length, is considered impolite.
Sometimes the delivering of the eulogy is done by the clergy. Clergy are often asked to deliver eulogies
for people they have never met. Church bells may also be tolled both before and after the service.
Tradition also allows the attendees of the memorial service to have one last opportunity to view the
decedent's body and say good-bye. The decedent's spouse, parents and children are always the very last to
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view their loved one before the coffin is closed. This opportunity can take place immediately before the
service begins, or at the very end of the service.
CHAPTER 2. HOLIDAYS

2.1 WORLDWIDE TRADITIONS

• CHRISTMAS

Christmas is a very big holiday in America. People decorate their homes weeks in advance and
shops, malls and restaurants are full of Christmas trees and Santa Figures. A lot of shops offer pictures to
take for kids with the real Santa Claus. History books refer to the United States as "the melting pot" where
all nations and traditions blend together. Indeed, American Christmas celebrations would indicate just
that. They have carols from England and Australia and trees from Germany. Santa Claus, or St. Nick. in a
red suit originated in Scandinavia and his arrival through the chimney to fill stockings is reminiscent of
the Netherlands. His sleigh drawn by reindeer began in Switzerland, and their parades may be a carry-over
from Latin processions. Of course the traditional feasting is typical of all nations. They, in turn, have
fattened up the jolly old man in the red suit and blended all the traditions until he comes down the
chimney on Christmas Eve, leaves gifts and stockings filled with treats and departs in a sleigh drawn by
eight tiny reindeer. The media has helped to make this a universal Christmas image. Yet each regions of
the U.S. has its own peculiarity.
Christmas, celebrated on 25 December, is a religious holiday; many Americans are not Christian and
do not celebrate the holiday. But all businesses and stores are closed for Christmas Eve (the night before)
and Christmas Day. Only a few restaurants are open. Public schools are closed for a week or more. Many
colleges have vacation until the middle of January. During the Christmas season, Americans shop for gifts
to give family, friends, and people they know at work. They also send special holiday cards. Families also
buy Christmas trees and decorate them with lights, balls, and candy. When you drive down the streets, you
can see the Christmas lights through the windows and on the doors of many houses. Families with
children also put stockings filled with candy and gifts near the fireplace.
The story of Santa Claus began a few hundred years ago, where St. Nicholas lived, who became a
saint for giving all his money to the poor. From this figure derived all the European images of St.
Nicholas, which were brought to America by the European settlers where they all mixed up. As time went
by, the image of the Bishop in a red robe changed to the jolly old elf he is known as today. These pictures
were ingrained into the minds of American people, including the eight reindeers with Rudolph being the
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most famous one. According to the story, Rudolph is one of the reindeer who fly with Santa Claus (St.
Nicholas) out of his home in the North Pole. Many children really believe that Santa Claus will land on
the roof of their house and come down the chimney. If the children have been good, Santa will leave them
with many gifts.
Before Christmas, many shopping malls hire adults to dress as Santa Claus. Children sit on Santa's
lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.
Whatever the region, Christmas is one of the most celebrated and enjoyed holidays in the nation.

• EASTER

Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Christians believe that
Jesus was resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion, and celebrate this resurrection on
Easter Day or Easter Sunday two days after Good Friday. Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not
fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each
year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the Moon. After several
centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church that Easter is
the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day is on or after March
21.
Many families in the United States celebrate Easter in the springtime. Some people recognize Easter
as religious holiday marking the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, but it has also become a popular
secular holiday as well. On Easter Sunday, families may take part in activities ranging from colouring
eggs to wearing new clothes to sharing a meal as a family. Little boys and girls look forward to a visit by
the mythical Easter Bunny, a large imaginary rabbit who comes and delivers treats and goodies much like
Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Shopping for new outfits is one of the most popular Easter traditions. The Easter bonnet is a special
type of hat worn by ladies, although these days they are most often seen on young girls. Traditionally, the
new clothes people buy are fancy, and are often worn to church services or parades. Easter parades were a
part of early American history, and many towns still hold these public events every year.
Eggs are a common item associated with this holiday, and decorating them is one of the most
popular Easter activities for parents and children to partake in together. The eggs are first hard boiled, then
coloured using either natural or store-bought dyes. In more recent times, stickers and other items have
been added to the eggs to make decorating them even more fun for children. Plastic eggs offer a welcome
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surprise; parents usually fill them with small candies or toys. Tradition holds that the Easter Bunny then
comes and hides the eggs around the house for kids to find the next day. Some towns also hold outdoor
egg hunts for children, inviting members of the community to join in the fun.
Easter baskets are another holiday tradition. The baskets may be made from natural materials or
plastic. The children use them to collect the coloured eggs and other goodies they find throughout the
house or yard. The baskets are usually filled with straw or green plastic grass and are often decorated with
a large pastel bow. The baskets can also hold other treats such as chocolate eggs, jellybeans and chocolate
bunnies. Some parents also include small toys and stuffed animals in addition to the candy.
Decorating the home in the colours and themes of spring is another favourite Easter pastime. The
Easter egg tree is a fun project all your family members can join in to make. A basic egg tree can be made
with a simple tree branch, pot or vase, some ribbon and plastic eggs. Decorate the eggs and then use
ribbon to hang them on the branches of the tree. Other common Easter decorations include a door wreath
with pastel-coloured ribbons and spring flowers such as tulips or daffodils.
And finally, sharing a meal with family is a wonderful American Easter tradition. Some people
prefer a brunch taking place at midday, while others have a sit-down dinner with all the trimmings. Roast
lamb and ham are both common entree choices, along with springtime vegetables. Hot cross buns are
traditional and can be found at any good bakery -- these yeasty rolls are decorated with a cross of icing on
top, which gives them their name.
Easter has strong themes and traditions that have been passed down for generations. Making hot
cross buns, decorating and hunting for eggs and coming together for a family meal on this day may
become traditions in all families as well.

• NEW YEAR

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient
Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the
first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring). 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 1,
on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary. During
the Middle Ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New Years. January 1 has been celebrated
as a holiday by Western nations for only about the past 400 years.

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American traditions of the season include the making of New Year's resolutions. That tradition also
dates back to the early Babylonians. Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight
or quit smoking. The early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.
The Tournament of Roses Parade dates back to 1886. In that year, members of the Valley Hunt Club
decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California.
Although the Rose Bowl football game was first played as a part of the Tournament of Roses in
1902, it was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the football game returned as
the sports centrepiece of the festival.
The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was
their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket,
representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a
symbol of rebirth.
Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a
symbol of rebirth forced the Church to re-evaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to
celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.
The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new
year was brought to early America by the Germans. They had used the effigy since the fourteenth century.
Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming
year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks
to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often
last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor
on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky
if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man.
Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in
the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For
that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.
Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the New Year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are
typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been
considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it
symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by
many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In
some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.

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2.2 SPECIFIC AMERICAN TRADITIONS

• GROUNDHOG DAY

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that
traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on
specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our
lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his
shadow whose appearance signifies that there will be winter for six more weeks. The U.S. official
groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In a great ceremony, in the early morning of February
2, ,,Punxsutawney Phil", as the groundhog is called, is pulled from his den and whispers his prediction in
the ear of his keeper. This happens in front of hundreds of reporters and lots of cameras and it is
broadcasted on the news all day.

• HALLOWEEN

Halloween is celebrated on October 31.Its traditions mostly originated from the pagan religious
practices of the Celts many years ago. Through the years these traditions were modified and new
traditions were added. In modern day Halloween has more traditions than any other holiday that the
United States has. In fact it has a whole list of them where the most popular are listed below: Mischief
Night( is a night where preteens and teenagers create mischief), dressing in costume, trick-or-treating,
pumpkin carving, hay rides, yard rolling / TPing, Halloween Carnivals, bobbin for apples, Cake Walks,
touring haunted houses, spook hunting, visiting grave yards, theme costume parties ,bonfires, Halloween
cooking, telling ghost stories, decorating spooky yards and porches, sharing spells.
Halloween is the time of ghost, witches, pumpkins and Trick or Treating. The history of Trick or
Treating can be traced back to the early celebrations of All Souls` Day in Britain, when beggars walked
from house to house and got treats to say a prayer for the dead. The custom changed and the children
became the beggars, and during the Pioneer Days housewives would give kids treats to keep from being
tricked.
Nowadays, the kids walk their neighbourhood and say ”Trick or Treat" and get candy from the people
sitting in front of their houses with loads of candy. Even shopping malls and public places make Trick or
Treating Days for kids to come and get candy. The symbol of Halloween is of course the pumpkin. It is

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pumpkin season and people used to cut faces out of pumpkins and put lights in it, but nowadays,
Jack’O’Lanterns’ are mostly made of plastic.

• MARDI GRAS

Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday celebrated on February 27, in many of the southern states of the
USA, especially New Orleans, Louisiana. It was introduced by French settlers in 1699 and the Americans
added to it. About two weeks before Fat Tuesday there are parades and masquerade balls that can be
watched nightly, that are organized by crews, that pick a king and queen that reign for the parade. The
official Mardi Gras colours are purple standing for justice, green for faith and gold for power. At the
parades you can make a catch by shouting the sentence: “Throw me something, mister.” The crews`
members ride on floats and throw beads, doubloons, cups and trinkets. Beads are glass necklaces of all
shapes and colours that resemble jewellery, royalty would wear, doubloons are metal coins that carry the
crew’s emblem and their theme for the year, cups are plastic drinking cups that hold about 8-10 oz. and
they carry the emblem and the theme as well. The trinkets are everything else that is thrown from the
float, including candy, Frisbees and whistles. The traditional food for Mardi Gras are King Cakes, which
are made of Cinnamon Rolls, formed into an oval with purple, green and yellow icing. Inside there is a
figure of a baby hidden, and the one who finds it will have to host the next King Cake party.

• MOTHER’S DAY
In 1907, a woman from Philadelphia began campaigning to establish Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
She did not give up until in 1914, President Wilson made the official announcement, proclaiming
Mother’s Day a national holiday.
Kids are supposed to let their mom have a day off. Many families begin Mother’s Day with a
breakfast in bed, while dad and the kids do the work and let mom sleep late. Maybe the kids prepare a
little gift for their mom or write a card and lots of families go out for a dinner in mom’s favourite
restaurant.
As a national holiday, Mother’s Day is proclaimed by the President every year. For example in
1996, President Clinton proclaimed it as following :
,,...Now, therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim
May 12, 1996, as Mother’s Day. I urge all Americans to express their gratitude for the many contributions
made by our mothers and to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities and programs..."
Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions.
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According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year
to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.

• TOOTH FAIRY

Of course there are more traditions in America that are not bound to a certain date, for example
the Tooth Fairy. This is a mythical character depicted as a fairy that gives a child money in exchange
for a baby tooth that has fallen out. Children typically place the tooth under their pillow at night while
they sleep. The fairy is said to take the tooth from under the pillow and replace it with money.
Although precursors exist elsewhere, the myth in this form is believed to be a totally American
invention, practiced only in the United States, Canada and American enclaves in other countries.

• VALENTINE’S DAY

Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 by many people
throughout the world. In the English-speaking countries, it is the traditional day on which lovers express
their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The
holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day
became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when
the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of
"valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the
winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced
greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain, and, in 1847,
Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made
Valentine cards based on British models. The popularity of Valentine cards in 19th century America,
where many Valentine cards are now general greeting cards rather than declarations of love, was a
harbinger of the future commercialization of holidays in the United States. The U.S. Greeting Card
Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the
day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The association estimates that,
in the US, men spend on average twice as much money as women.

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In modern times, the reinvention of Saint Valentine's Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric
Schmidt. As a writer in Graham's American Monthly observed in 1849, "Saint Valentine's Day... is
becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday." In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines
of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of
Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her
inspiration from an English valentine she had received, so clearly the practice of sending Valentine's cards
had existed in England before it became popular in North America.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all
manner of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman. Such gifts typically include roses
and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to
promote Valentine's Day as an occasion for giving jewellery. The day has come to be associated with a
generic platonic greeting of "Happy Valentine's Day." As a joke, Valentine's Day is also referred to as
"Singles Awareness Day." In some North American elementary schools, children decorate classrooms,
exchange cards, and eat sweets. The greeting cards of these students often mention what they appreciate
about each other.
The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of
people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine's Day greeting messages such as
e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards.

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2.3 NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

• INDEPENDENCE DAY (UNITED STATES)

In the United States, Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday
commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence
from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades,
barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various
other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-
themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal
holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service and federal courts) are closed on
that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's
heritage, laws, history, society, and people.
Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take
advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g.,
streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally coloured red, white, and blue, the colours of the American
flag. Parades often are in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as
parks, fairgrounds, or town squares. While the official observance always falls on July 4th, participation
levels may vary according to which day of the week the 4th falls on. If the holiday falls in the middle of
the week, some fireworks displays and celebrations may take place during the weekend for convenience,
again, varying by region.
Every year in the U.S.A. , the Rainbow Family gather for prayer for World Peace. With attendance
ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 or more participants, most refer to it as Interdependence Day as all live in
primitive conditions by choice, in State Forests and rely upon one another for the first week of July.
Participants on Independence Day pray, meditate, or are silent on the morning of Independence Day,
ending in a verbal group expression, Aum or Om. The Rainbow Gathering takes place annually for the first
week of July.
The Midwest's largest fireworks display, called "Red, White & Boom", happens on the last weekday
before Independence Day in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Also the International Freedom Festival is
jointly held in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario during the last week of June each year, as a
combined celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day (July 1).

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• THANKSGIVING DAY

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, at the end of
the harvest season, is an annual American Federal holiday to express thanks for one's material
possessions.
Most people celebrate by gathering at home with family or friends for a holiday feast. Though the
holiday's origins can be traced to harvest festivals which have been celebrated in many cultures since
ancient times, the American holiday has religious undertones related to the deliverance of the English
settlers by Native Americans after the brutal winter at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The first proclaimed day of thanksgiving in the colony was not held until 1623.After the American
Revolution the first national Thanksgiving Day, proclaimed by President George Washington, was Nov.
26, 1789.The Episcopal Church began celebrating an annual day of thanksgiving on the first Thursday in
November. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Holiday in 1863, appointing as the
date the last Thursday of November. In 1941 Congress passed a joint resolution decreeing that
Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November. The customary turkey dinner is a reminder
of the wildfowl served at the Pilgrims' celebration.
About the Pilgrims facts are said that The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11,
1620.At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the
Mayflower. They had celebrated with a Thanksgiving feast -- 52 English colonists (pilgrims) and 91
Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first yea; gathered for a 3 day harvest feast. It is
believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the native Indians.
U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Puritans
who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This element continues in modern times with the Thanksgiving
dinner, often featuring turkey, playing a large role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Some of the details
of the American Thanksgiving story are myths that developed in the 1890s and early 1900s as part of the
effort to forge a common national identity in the aftermath of the Civil War and in the melting pot of new
immigrants.
In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. First and
foremost, baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so
that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as "Turkey Day"). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet
potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, other fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are commonly associated
with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these primary dishes are actually native to the Americans or were
introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. As an alternative to turkey, many
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vegetarians or vegans eat tofurky, a meatless turkey made of tofu. Also served at some Thanksgivings is
the dish of taco pie, as seen in popular television programs such as Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger
Force.
To feed the needy at Thanksgiving time, most communities have annual food drives that collect non-
perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods
and Thanksgiving dinners.
Thanksgiving was originally a religious observance for all the members of the community to give
thanks to God for a common purpose. In celebrations at home, it is a holiday tradition in many families to
begin the Thanksgiving dinner by saying grace. Found in diverse religious traditions, grace is a prayer
before or after a meal to express appreciation to God, to ask for God’s blessing, or in some philosophies,
to express an altruistic wish or dedication. The grace may be led by the hostess or host, as has been
traditional, or, in contemporary fashion, each person may contribute words of blessing or thanks.
According to a 1998 Gallup poll, an estimated 64 percent of Americans say grace
On Thanksgiving Day, families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner, the result being
that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. In the United
States, Thanksgiving is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation in school and college calendars. Most
business and government workers (78% in 2007) are also given both Thanksgiving and the day after as
paid holidays.[24] Thanksgiving Eve, on the Wednesday night before, has been one of the busiest nights
of the year for bars and clubs, both in terms of sales and volume of patrons, as many students have
returned to their hometowns from college.
There is a traditional Thanksgiving parade too, which probably started with President Lincoln
proclaiming it an official day. The full- dress parade is a way to display the country's military strength and
discipline. The main aim of such parades is to lift the spirits of the spectators, provide them with
wholesome entertainment. In the present day, parades are accompanied with musical shows and
celebrities.
American football is often a major part of Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.
Professional games are traditionally played on Thanksgiving Day; until recently, these were the only
games played during the week apart from Sunday or Monday night. The National Football League has
played games on Thanksgiving every year since its creation; the tradition is referred to as the
Thanksgiving Classic.
The mid-afternoon timing of televised professional football games has often lured family members
away from the traditional Norman Rockwell-esque Thanksgiving table, impelling them to bring their
dinner plates in front of the television. This has sometimes had the effect of converting the mood of the
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holiday from a family dinner revolving around mealtime conversation to something resembling a Super
Bowl party, much to the dismay of mothers and other traditionalists.

• SUPER BOWL SUNDAY

Super bowl Sunday is a very important day for most Americans. It is the day where the winner of the
American Football League and the winner of the National Football league play against each other for the
greatest trophy in football history. People have Super bowl Parties and meet to watch the game.
The first Super bowl took place in 1967 and this year’s game was won by the Baltimore Ravens who won
over New York 34 to 7. Every year, communities run out of water because everybody goes to the
bathroom at the same time, at the quarterly breaks. The winner team get Super bowl Rings, each worth
5000$ and about 120 000$ prize money. The game is interrupted for commercial breaks and the show
starts at early afternoon, so if you watch the whole show you will see a few thousand commercials. The
average cost of a thirty second spot is 2.3 million dollars. This years national anthem was performed by
the Backstreet Boys and the half time entertainment was by Aerosmith and NSYNC. The game was
watched in more than 43 million homes.

• MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States holiday marking the birth date of the Reverend
Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of
King's birthday, January 15. It is one of three United States federal holidays to commemorate an
individual person. King was the chief spokesman of the non-violent civil rights movement, which
successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. He was assassinated in 1968.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s death did not slow the Civil Rights Movement. Black and white
people continued to fight for freedom and equality. Coretta Scott King is the widow of the civil rights
leader. In 1970, she established the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. This
"living memorial" consists of his boyhood home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King is buried.
The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honour began soon after his assassination. Ronald
Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted
observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was
officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
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The national Martin Luther King Day of Service was started by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator
Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service
Act. The federal legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen
action volunteer service in honour of Dr. King. The federal legislation was signed into law by President
Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994. Since 1996, the annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service[1] has
been the largest event in the nation honouring Dr. King.
Schools, offices and federal agencies are closed for the holiday. On Monday there are quiet
memorial services as well as elaborate ceremonies in honour of Dr. King. On the preceding Sunday,
ministers of all religions give special sermons reminding everyone of Dr. King's lifelong work for peace.
All weekend, popular radio stations play songs and speeches that tell the history of the Civil Rights
Movement. Television channels broadcast special programs with filmed highlights of Dr. King's life and
times.

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Chapter 3. THE POWER OF TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS

Talking about traditions and customs we often see that these have a great impact on people’s lives.
Even though the traditions are imposed by religion, geographical region or even by the people close to
whom other people live, they like to respect and follow what has already been established.
We see everywhere around us how the old tradition is replaced by the new one. What was profound
now becomes commercial and superficial.
Traditions can on one side unite families and help in tying relations between people sometimes far
apart, and on the other side can separate and disrupt social communication between people that don’t
share the same religion and customs. We ought to think about the worldwide Christmas tradition that
almost every human being on the planet celebrates. Apart from the religious aspect, Christmas has the
purpose of bringing together members of the family and close friends not only to celebrate Jesus’ birth but
also to revitalise connections.
In the XXI st century, modern man has learned to respect traditions whether or not he is spiritually
attached to them. Nowadays it is not as important believing in the real symbol of tradition as it is to
honour them. Rituals have now an atavistic side being carried out not because of a conscience decision or
a present need but because of an old habit from the distant past. Parents teach their children from early
childhood how to fulfil the customs and why they are expected to do so. Later on, this can lead to
disagreements between two individuals belonging to different cultures. Not sharing the same opinions
means not being able to build a relationship.
Because of the technological development, traditions are now much discussed in the media and their
value is decreasing rapidly. Mass-media tends to change their meaning from a spiritual one to one
concerning the public interest.
From the early ages there have been well-established customs, which have changed their
interpretation. Basic symbols remain the same but are updated to modern times depending on human
needs. Apart from the basic symbols, there are appearing secondary more appealing figures: for example
the appearance of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. Although these don’t have the religious content, they
apply better to this century, attracting followers in an age in which religion doesn’t play a primary role.

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CONCLUSIONS

Personally I believe that everywhere in this world, each state has its own traditions and holidays,
which are more or less respected by the aboriginals. There are traditions which can be divided into
different brackets according to religion, season (winter, spring etc.), family etc. Some of the customs are
the same in many states because they are “imported”. This, remains on their basic meaning, but sometimes
are changed because the man, in general, wants to have his own contribution. For example, a bride may
want to marry in her parent’s yard, not in a church. Talking about holidays, this can be divided, too. Here,
the dispersion can be made worldwide, specific to the region, or national.
A lot of people say that Americans do not have any culture or traditions. But I think, as we saw, this
is not true. Of course they are strongly influenced by their origins which lie mostly in Europe, but they
changed the customs, added to them and brought up own ideas. Now they even export their traditions to
the old world and we start to pick them up, and have things like Halloween Parties.
I have chosen this theme because I am impressed by the fact that a country, so developed and so
strong at all points like the USA, is keeping its customs. I firmly believe that all the civilizations in the
world should take example, because the Americans are a model of people that know how to value their
culture.
Taking everything into account, we should all think about the behaviour and mentality the
Americans have and we should pay more attention to our culture and traditions because we represent our
identity and it makes us unique among the rest of the civilizations.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

• The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago, London, vol.II, IV, VI


• Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Cambridge University Press,2005
• Judy, Priven - American Holiday Traditions: Christmas, Hannukah & New Year
• Anthony, Aveni - The Easter/Passover Season: Connecting Time's Broken Circle, Oxford
University Press, Oxford, 2004
• Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold, and Paul Bradshaw - The Study of Liturgy,
Revised Edition, Oxford University Press, New York, 1992
• Nicholas, Rogers - Samhain and the Celtic Origins of Halloween, Oxford University Press, New
York 2002
• Nicholas, Rogers - Halloween Goes to Hollywood, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002
• Diane, Arkins - Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear, Pelican Publishing
Company, 2000
• Pauline, Maier - Making Sense of the Fourth of July, American Heritage, 1997.
• Shahin, Gerami - Women in Fundamentalism, Garland Publishing, New York, 1996
• James, Wynbrandt - The Excruciating History of Dentistry, St. Martin's Press, 1998
• Leigh Eric, Schmidt - The Commercialization of the calendar: American holidays and the culture
of consumption
• Jessica, Mitford - The American Way of Death Revisited, 1996

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