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Living in the US
Other Festivities in the US
There’s a good chance you might know many holidays celebrated in the US from your home country. However, most have gained an unmistakable twist to them over the generations, making for uniquely American traditions. Below, we take a closer look at a select number of them.
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In addition to the highlights of the US holiday calendar we have looked at in part one of this article, there are a number of other highly popular festivals. A few of them do bear significance on a national scale, and some reflect the multicultural aspects of contemporary American culture.
Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”)
Mardi Gras usually takes place before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of religious fasting for Catholics and Orthodox Christians); as such, it marks the end of Carnival season and its revelries.
In New Orleans, as well as a number of other cities and areas with a strong French background and tradition, people celebrate Mardi Gras in a gigantic party outdoors, complete with colorful (and crowded) parades, balls, and masked spectacles. Various traditional Carnival clubs, called “krewe”, build floats and participate in the parades in flamboyant outfits. The annual Mardi Gras celebrations attract a huge number of visitors and tourists.
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St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)
This holiday is more popular in the United States (particularly the northeast) than in its country of origin, Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in recognition of Irish Americans, their culture, heritage, and contributions to the United States. It is an occasion for parades, parties, and lots of drinking.
To reflect the festival’s roots on the Emerald Isle, people wear green on that day. Whoever refuses to wear green may run the risk of getting pinched, a rather painful St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
While St. Patrick’s Day is generally celebrated all across the nation, the biggest parties and parades tend to be in areas with a large number of Irish American residents, notably Boston (the first city in the US to observe St. Patrick’s Day), New York City, New Orleans, Cleveland, Chicago (which goes as far as dyeing their river green for the occasion), and many others.
Super Bowl Sunday
Although it is not a holiday per se, the weekend of the NFL football championship game has become somewhat of a national celebration. Considering the status of football as America’s favorite sport, this should not come as a surprise.
The NFL championship is also best suited to become a national phenomenon – in contrast to the championships in the MLB or the NBA, the Super Bowl is decided in a single game, not a playoff series. On a Sunday in February, people meet up for Super Bowl parties or gather in front of their friends’ TVs with a lot of snacks, dips, and junk food to enjoy the game and support their favored team.
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th)
Cinco de Mayo is the day Mexicans celebrate the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army in 1862. Although it is mostly celebrated in the region of Puebla, Mexico, it made its way to the USA and is becoming increasingly popular.
You’ll be able to find celebrations with Mexican food, drinks, and music in any US city with a significant Mexican-American population. Some cities also have Cinco de Mayo concerts and parades to highlight Mexican and Mexican-American culture.