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Colegiul National Garabet Ibraileanu Iasi

Lucrare pentru obtinerea atestatului de


competenta lingvistica la Limba Engleza

Profesor indrumator,

Candidat,

Mai 2012

CONTENT

1.Motivation. ..3
2.Chapter I : National Celebrations
2.1 Thanksgiving Day....4
2.2 Independence Day..8
2.3 Washingtons Birthday or Presidents Day ..11
2.4 Memorial Day13
2.5 Labor Day......................................................15
3.Chapter II : Other celebrations
3.1 Kwanzaa.16
3.2 Groundhog Day..18
3.3 Valentines Day.19
3.4 Halloween..21

4.Chapter III: Worldwide celebrations


4.1 Christmas...23
4.2 Easter.24
5.Conclusion.25
6.Bibliography..26

1.Motivation

I chose the American Celebrations theme because they are unique in the world
and their way of celebrating makes them known all over the world.
The word celebration is defined as a joyful occasion or a day on which special
festivities are organized .
The purpose of a celebration is to mark a happy event, the birthday of an
important leader or saint or an historical event.
America is a country with a wealthy variety of celebrations. Some of them are
weird but some of them are very interesting.
I think that celebrations is one of the things that makes a nation different from
another. From celebrations we find out about the history, traditions, important
people and facts.
Americans are very proud of their celebrations and they take into account each
one of them through various events such as parades, concerts, festive meals etc.

2.Chapter I : National Celebrations

2.1 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
celebration to express thanks for ones material possessions.
As a federal and popular celebration in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the
major celebrations of the year.
Most people celebrate by gathering at home with family or friends for a
celebration feast.
The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins from a 1621 celebration at the
Plymouth Plantation, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a
successful growing season. This was continued in later years, first as an
impromptu religious observance, and later as a civil tradition.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Celebration 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.

Traditions on Thanksgiving Day

Food

U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag
and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is continued in
modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner, traditionally featuring turkey,
playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.
In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving
meals. Firstly, 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").
Traditional Thanksgiving foods are sometimes specific to the day, and although
some of the foods might be seen at any semi-formal meal in the United States, the
meal often has something of a ritual or traditional quality. Many Americans would
say it is "incomplete" without cranberry sauce; stuffing or dressing; and gravy.
Other commonly served dishes include winter squash; yams; mashed potatoes;
dumplings; corn on the cob or hominy; deviled eggs; green beans or green bean
casserole; sauerkraut (among those in the Mid-Atlantic; especially Baltimore),
peas and carrots, bread rolls, cornbread (in the south and parts of New England),
or biscuits, rutabagas or turnips; and a salad.
For dessert, various pies are often served, particularly apple pie, mincemeat pie,
sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie and pecan pie.

Parad
es
Since 1924, in New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held
annually every Thanksgiving Day from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to
Macy's flagship store in Herald Square, and televised nationally by NBC. The
parade features parade floats with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays,
large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school
marching bands. The float that
traditionally ends the Macy's Parade
is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of
which is an unofficial sign of the
beginning of the Christmas season.
Also founded in 1924, America's
Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit is
one of the largest parades in the
country. The parade runs from
Midtown to Downtown Detroit and
precedes the annual Detroit Lions Thanksgiving football game. The parade

includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like
the Macy's parade and is nationally televised on various affiliate stations. The
Mayor of Detroit closes the parade by giving Santa Claus a key to the city.
Football
American football is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the
United States. Professional football games are often held 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.
For many college football teams, the regular season ends on Thanksgiving
weekend, and a team's final game is often against a regional or historic rival. Most
of these college games are played on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving,
but usually a single college game is played on Thanksgiving itself.
High school football games, and informal "Turkey Bowl" contests played by
amateur groups and organizations, are frequently held on Thanksgiving weekend.
Games of football proceeding or following the meal in the back yard or a nearby
field are also common with during many family gatherings.
2.2 Independence Day

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal


celebration in the United States.
Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a
federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence
Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution
(1775-83).
In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary
struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great
Britain.
On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two
days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic
document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of
American independence.

The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War
of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain.
In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision
was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.
Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but
Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of
patriotism.
Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues,
carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political
speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events
celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Independence Day is the national day of the United States.

Independence Day is a national celebration marked by patriotic displays. Similar


to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place
outdoors.
Independence Day is a federal celebration, 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 colored red,
white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades are often in the morning,
while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds,
or town squares.

2.3 Washingtons Birthday or Presidents Day

This holiday is often called Presidents day as well, though the official name is
Washingtons Birthday. This federal holiday is celebrated each year on the
third Monday of February, though it was originally celebrated on Washingtons
actual birthday of February 22nd.
Its the first federal holiday to recognize an American citizen and was enacted
in 1880 as a holiday for the District of Columbia only.
In 1885 it was named a federal holiday for all federal
offices in the U.S. It wasnt until 1976 that Washingtons
Birthday was moved to the third Monday of February in
an attempt to establish it more along the lines of
Presidents Day to also honor Abraham Lincoln who was

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born on February 12th. Though the change in day passed the change in name
did not.
Currently 12 states have renamed Washingtons Birthday, Presidents Day or a
similar variation to honor all of the U.S. presidents. In Massachusetts the
holiday focuses on honoring presidents from that state and a few other states
have passed similar holidays as well.
Washington's Birthday is the official name designated to what many of us
know as President's Day. During the month of February the birthday of two of
our greatest President's takes place. Both George Washington who was born on
Feb. 22nd and Abraham Lincoln born on Feb. 12th.
However, Washington's birthday has been publicly celebrated since he was in
office, before Abraham Lincoln was even born. Much of the debate over the
name of the holiday springs from the fact that state's can follow their own
holidays how they see fit and many of them chose to also honor Lincoln,
calling the celebration President's Day.
It was in 1968 that the term President's Day came up for legal consideration in
the Congress but was shot down, though the holiday was moved to fall
between the two President's birthdays.
Again in the 1980's there was a resurgence of the term with advertisers which
solidified the holiday name in American culture.
The federal celebration Washington's Birthday honors the accomplishments of the
man known as "The Father of his Country". Celebrated for his leadership in the
founding of the nation, he was the Electoral College's unanimous choice to
become the first President; he was seen as a unifying force for the new republic
and set an example for future holders of the office.
The holiday is also a tribute to the general who created the first military badge of
merit for the common soldier. Revived on Washington's 200th birthday in 1932,
the Purple Heart medal (which bears Washington's image) is awarded to soldiers
who are injured in battle.
Community celebrations often display a lengthy heritage.
Washington's hometown of historic Alexandria, Virginia, hosts a month-long
tribute, including the longest running George Washington Birthday parade, while
the community of Eustis, Florida, continues its annual "George Fest" celebration

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begun in 1902. In Denver, Colorado there is a society dedicated to observing the


day.
At the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland
County, Virginia, and at Mount Vernon, visitors are treated to birthday
celebrations throughout the federal holiday weekend and through February 22.
Since 1862 there has been a tradition in the United States Senate that George
Washington's Farewell Address be read on his birthday.
Citizens had asked that this be done in light of the approaching Civil War. The
annual tradition continues with the reading of the address on or near Washington's
Birthday.

2.4

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal celebration observed annually on the last
Monday of May . Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the
American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War.

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By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans
who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and
women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by
General John Logan, national commander of the Grand
Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May
1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and
Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New
York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the
northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day,
honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday
changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring
Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by
Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend
for Federal holidays.
Many people observe Memorial Day by visiting
cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of
remembrance takes place at 3 pm local time.
Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United
States at half-staff from dawn until noon local
time. Volunteers often place American flags on
each grave site at National Cemeteries.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of
parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most
of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National
Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military
vehicles from various wars.

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Because Memorial Day is generally associated with the start of the summer
season, it's common tradition to inaugurate the outdoor cooking season on
Memorial Day with a barbeque.
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a
ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is
customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the
contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the
Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.
2.5 Labor Day

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in
September (September 3 in 2012) that celebrates the economic and social
contributions of workers.
The first Labor Day was held in 1882. Its origins stem from the desire of the
Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday
in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street
parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor
organizations.

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After the parade, a festival was to be held to amuse local workers and their
families. In later years, prominent men and women held speeches. This is less
common now, but is sometimes seen in election years. One of the reasons for
choosing to celebrate this on the first Monday in September was to add a holiday
in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
Labor Day is a day of rest or the last chance for many people to go on trips before
the summer ends. For students, it is the last chance to organize parties before
school starts again. In some neighborhoods, people organize fireworks displays,
barbecues and public arts or sports events.

3.Chapter

II

Other

celebrations

3.1 Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring universal


African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1
each year.
It features activities such as lighting a candle holder with seven candles and
culminates in a feast and gift-giving. It was created by Maulana Karenga and was
first celebrated in 196667.

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Kwanzaa is a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of
the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect
with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and
study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the "seven principles of African
Heritage" which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy".

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which
means "first fruits" in Swahili.
Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art;
colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women;
and fresh fruits that represent African idealism.

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It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and


gratitude to ancestors. Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice,
Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans
also celebrate Kwanzaa.

The holiday greeting is "Joyous Kwanzaa".

A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a


reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the
Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in
African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast
(karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? which is Swahili
for "What's the News?

3.2 Groundhog Day

Groundhog
Day, celebrated on February 2 nd ,is a popular
celebration in the United States. It is also a legend tins clouded
that traverses centuries,its origins clouded in the mists of time
with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates.
Myths such as this our present to the distant past when nature
did, indeed, influence in our lives.
It is the day that Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long
winter sleep to look for his shadow whose appearance sighifies
that there will be winter for six more weeks.is kept in

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The U.S official groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In a


great ceremony, in the early morning of February2, ,,Punxsutawney Phil", as the
groundhog is called, is pulled from his den and whispers his prediction in the ear
if his keeper.
This happens in front of hundreds of reporters and lots of cameras and it is
broadcasted on the news all day.

3.3

Valentines

Day

Valentine's Day is an extremely popular celebration in United States of America.


People in US observe a holiday on this day to honor St Valentine and to express
love to dear ones. Taking opportunity of the festival people express gratitude and
love for sweethearts, spouse, teachers, parents or any other person close to them.
Valentine's Day is said to have imported to North America in the 19th century by
British
settlers. First
massproduced
Valentine's
Day card with
embossed
paper lace are
said to have
produced
in

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United States shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester,


Massachusetts.
In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of giving gifts along with cards
became popular. Roses and chocolates were the most commonly exchanged
Valentine's Day Gifts and were usually given by man to the woman. Around
1980's diamond industry began to promote Valentine's Day as an occasion to gift
fine jewelry. Today, the day has come to be associated with a generic platonic
greeting
of
"Happy
Valentine's
Day."

Valentine's Day festival has been commercialized to a great extent in US. It is


estimated that Valentine's Day is the major card and gift giving festival in US.
Days before the festival markets wear a festive look to lure consumers.

Popular gifts exchanged on the day include cards, fresh flowers- mainly rose,
chocolates and candies. These days, people also complement these with other gifts
of
love
to
express
affection
and
love.
Valentine's Day dinner and dance parties are organized all over the country to
celebrate the occasion. Many couples hold private celebrations in homes or
restaurants. Another interesting part of Valentine's Day in US is the celebrations
organized by kids.

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Several schools organize Valentine's Day programmes where children perform


songs, dance, skits and plays. Children also gift handmade gifts and cards to their
friends and teachers.

3.4 Halloween

Halloween (a shortening of All Hallows Evening),also known as Hallowe'en or


All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31,
the night before All Saints' Day. Much like Day of the Dead celebrations, the
Christian feast of All Hallows' Eve, according to some scholars, incorporates
traditions from pagan harvest festivals and festivals honouring the dead,

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particularly the Celtic Samhain; other scholars maintain that the feast originated
entirely independently of Samhain.
In America, Halloween stands for a congregation of both religious and pagan
beliefs, rituals and traditions. Irish immigrants were the ones to bring the festival
to America. In 1840, during their escape from their countrys potato famine, they
came to America and made it familiar with Halloween.
Until the 19th century, Halloween had not become a major holiday in the United
States (US). It was in the 20th century that the commercialization aspect came
into being and the popularity of the festival increased. The earliest commercial
venture comprised of the Halloween postcards, which were in vogue from 1905 to
1915.
Today, Americans decorate their houses with jack-o'-lanterns, scarecrows, witches
and decorations like spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and Frankensteins.
They also use lighting, such as orange and purple string lights, to illuminate their
houses. Other popular decorations include tombstones and gargoyles made of
foam.

A
popular
tradition followed by
American
children on Halloween
is
trick-ortreaters. This is a fun
game where
the children dressed
up in fancy costumes go from house to house asking trick or treat? In this game,
the children mildly threaten the house owners about doing some mischief, if they
are not given treats. In North America, the idea of trick-or-treat hails from the
belief that one must be kind to the departed souls, lest they play a trick on the
person. Neo-pagans in North America consider Halloween to be the turning point
between the old and the new year. Besides, the festival marks the gateway

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between

the

living

and

dead

world..

Organizing Halloween parties, especially the


masquerade parties, is growing as a popular trend of
the festival among the people in America. Both
children and adults put on costumes of ghouls, goblins,
princesses and pirates.

They might dress up as hob globins, ghosts and witches as well and tell stories of
ghosts and witches. They carve out shining jack-o?-lanterns from the pumpkins.
The popularity of Halloween in America is increasing year after year. Media, like
television, movies and other media, have contributed significantly to the growth
of Halloween as one of the largest commercial holidays in America.

4.

Chapter III: Worldwide Celebrations

4.1 Christmas

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Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus


Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday by
billions of people around the world.
A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and
initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.
Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the
world's nations is celebrated by an increasing
number of non-Christians, and is an integral
part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The popular celebratory customs associated in
various countries with Christmas have a mix
of pre-Christian, Christian and secular themes
and origins. Popular modern customs of the
holiday include gift giving, Christmas music
and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards,
church celebrations, a special meal, and the
display of various Christmas decorations,
including Christmas trees, Christmas lights,
nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe,
and holly.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as
Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Christkind, are associated with
bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of
traditions and lore.
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve
heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the
holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and
businesses.
The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the
past few centuries in many regions of the world.
4.2 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

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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 March21.
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.
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 storebought 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 surprise; parents usually fill them with small candies or toys.
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.
5.Conclusion

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Personally I believe that everywhere in this world, each state has its own
celebrations, which are more or less respected by the aboriginals.
Talking about celebrations 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 behavior 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.

6.Bibliography

25

Anthony, Aveni -T h e E a s t e r / P a s s o v e r S e a s o n : C o n n e c t i n g Tim e ' s


B r o k e n C i r c l e , Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004
Nicholas, Rogers -Halloween Goes to Hollywood , Oxford University Press, New
York, 2002
Leigh Eric, Schmidt -The Commercialization of the calendar: American holidays
and the culture of consumption
Becker, Carl L. The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of
Political Ideas. New York: Harcourt, Brace,1922
Love, William De Loss. The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_holidays_in_the_United_States
www.history.com
http://www.usmemorialday.org
www.en.wikipedia.org

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