So you’ve been accepted to study in the USA, that’s amazing! The USA is a fantastic place to be, especially over the holidays. Americans celebrate a few different holidays compared to the rest of the world, and as a foreigner, you will learn to love and appreciate them almost just as much as the Americans do. American holidays are a time when you can indulge, have fun and get a taste of the American culture you travelled so far to explore. Here are some of the best American holidays.
It’s that time of the year again, the 4th of July. This holiday is high on the list of favourite holidays for Americans. On the 4th of July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the birth of the USA as an independent nation arose. This is the day America claimed independence from Britain and became a democratic country.
Today, the 4th of July celebrations usually involves friends and family getting together for parades, cookouts (with lots of red, white and blue themed snacks), swimming, and an array of beautiful fireworks to end the night off. When attending one of these gatherings, it’s important to bring a dish to share. A salad, dessert, or even a special dish from your home country to share your culture. Whatever you do, make sure to add a bit of American spirit to your day, and have fun!
On October 31st all the ghouls and goblins come out to play, and the dead walk the earth. Just kidding, but Halloween in America is huge and a lot of fun! Kids go door to door dressed as their favourite princess or superhero, collecting different chocolates and candies from houses in their neighbourhood. Halloween isn’t just for the little ones though, even parents get to have some fun! Many employers have costume contests and Halloween parties for the adults! As for college kids, students dress up in different costumes for a night out on the town, as many bars hold competitions for the best dressed.
While all of this sounds fun, it’s not just the costume contests, candy, and parties that make Halloween so great, but also the days leading up to it! Many cities and small towns have festivals where they close down streets and allow vendors to open up shops selling caramel apples, taffy, funnel cakes, and trinkets. There are also different activities that you can partake in such as; haunted hayrides, corn mazes, visiting cider mills, or even head into a pumpkin patch and find the perfect pumpkin to carve.
If you’re more of a homebody, don’t worry! October is also full of fun Halloween movies leading up to the 13 days of Halloween! Young or old, Halloween in America is for everyone! So take advantage and enjoy this fun holiday, and all the days leading up to it!
Oh boy, nothing says ‘American holiday’ quite like Thanksgiving. The beautiful decorations, all of the food, family, and of course American football to end off the day. Thanksgiving is probably the most loved family-oriented holiday, and for some, it may even top Christmas.
Thanksgiving falls on the 4th week of November, where relatives travel from all over to gather into one house to be with family and give thanks for all that they have. The Thanksgiving dinner typically involves turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, candied sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar and marshmallows... Don’t be afraid! I promise it’s delicious)
After dinner, everyone makes their way into the Living Room with their full bellies to enjoy some American football. As an international student, you’ll most likely be invited to one of these gatherings from a friend. American families will welcome you with open arms because “the more the merrier”.
If you are not joining a family Thanksgiving, why not throw your own “Friendsgiving” which is just the friend's version of Thanksgiving. Get together, eat traditional meals, and give thanks for your fantastic opportunity to be able to study in this unique county.
Christmas is huge in the States and may be celebrated a little differently to back home. The day after Thanksgiving finishes, decorations come off, and Christmas decorations go up. Everything from homes, restaurants, malls, and city centres are all decked out with giant Christmas trees, garlands, white lights, and red ribbons; and not to forget all of the Christmas music being played everywhere you go; and I mean everywhere (let’s just say you get your Christmas music fix early).
Depending on where you are studying, many parts of America experience cold weather, so you may get to enjoy that beautiful white Christmas everyone dreams of, and what many people associate Christmas with. The Christmas celebration isn’t too different from what you’d typically expect. The family, gifts, and dinner; however, because America is so diverse, depending on their cultural background, the meal could be completely different. For example, some Italian families go all out with pasta and lasagna!
Although many of these holidays have become hugely commercialized, and people sometimes get caught up in all of the decorations, and commotion, the end is all worth it. These holidays do one thing, they bring everyone together! So If you’re into new traditions, cultures, dressing up, and having a lot of fun, America is the place for you!