The American Holiday Season

  • 18 December 2015

What we call the festive season, Americans refer to as holiday season. Why? Because for them it’s much larger than Christmas - their holiday season spans Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa. If Americans are visiting you over their holiday season, find out what they’re celebrating to try and accommodate their special days.

November 26, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the day in which Americans give thanks for everything that they have. It traditionally involves watching and playing football, attending parades and a feast where everyone goes around the table to say what they are thankful for.

December 6 - December 14, Hanukkah

Hanukkah is listed as a “minor” Jewish holiday on the calendar, but in the US there is nothing minor about it. The Festival of Lights begins with the lighting of the menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum), and over the next 8 days gifts are given, the dreidel game is played and holiday treats are devoured. Favourite eats for this holiday include sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and latkes (fried potato pancakes)

December 25, Christmas Day

Americans are famously enthusiastic when it comes to Christmas. They celebrate with giftgiving, churchgoing and feasting. Their Christmas meals involve roast ham or beef, eggnog (a spiced egg-based drink), and a dessert of either pumpkin pie, marzipan or pecan pie.

December 26 - January 1, Kwanzaa

The last big holiday of the year, Kwanzaa is a 30 year old holiday that celebrates African history in America. It takes its name from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which in Swahili means "first fruits. The colours black, red and green are the colours of Kwanzaa, and each day of Kwanzaa has a different meaning (from ‘unity’ to ‘creativity’). Families gather during Kwanzaa to light the kinara, a candle holder with seven candles in the colors of red, black, and green. Songs and dances are a popular way of celebrating Kwanzaa.