The winter holiday season in the United States, which runs from late November to early January, is a time when Americans take extra time to spend with family and friends — and express thanks for life’s blessings.
It’s the season of giving gratitude and receiving presents.
Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November, officially kicks off the holiday season. It’s a day for reconnecting with long-distance relatives, eating traditional American meals, and taking a vacation from demanding work schedules. Millions of Americans travel thousands of kilometers each year to gather with family and friends for a meal that often includes roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
After supper, sports lovers congregate around the country to watch televised American-style football games played on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a day when thousands of Americans volunteer to aid the less fortunate. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans from all walks of life, from professional athletes to schoolchildren, come together to aid those in need.
Christmas, which is observed on December 25, inspires many Americans, including those who are not religious, to give to others, much as Thanksgiving does. Every year, over the winter holidays, Americans donate millions of dollars and give millions of hours to aid the less fortunate.
The event commemorates the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago for Christians, and the faithful in the United States, as well as other countries, attend church services. Non-Christians and Christians alike exchange homemade cookies and other baked goodies. Christmas carolers sing classic carols and bring cheer in many U.S. cities, strolling through residential neighborhoods or gathering in public squares.
People of numerous faiths and traditions make up the American population.
Americans are people of different faiths, and the winter holiday season in the United States celebrates this diversity. Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that occurs from late November to late December (depending on the year), commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. Hanukkah is honored by lighting a nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah for eight nights and days.
Millions of African Americans have celebrated Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1 every year since 1966, as a way of reconnecting with their African cultural and historical roots. Kwanzaa is about honoring family, community, and culture, and it’s celebrated by decorating homes with African-inspired art, African kente cloth, and fruits that represent African ideals. Drumming, musical performances, and a candle-lighting ritual may all be part of the ceremonies, which conclude with the karamu feast.
Kwanzaa is now observed alongside Christmas by many African-American families.
The winter holiday season in the United States comes to a close with New Year’s celebrations, which start the night before on New Year’s Eve. The new year is celebrated by millions of people around the world as a time for new beginnings, optimism for a brighter future, and resolutions to better one’s behavior. Americans throw parties and attend concerts, fireworks show, and other special events on New Year’s Eve. Festivals vary by location, with regional variants on well-known traditions.