American flag painted on hands.

6 Holidays Only Americans Celebrate

The United States has adopted holidays from other countries, but it’s also home to some unique dates that aren’t celebrated anywhere else. Which one of these holidays is your favorite?

1: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
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Date: Third Monday in January

Martin Luther King Junior Day (MLK Day) commemorates Martin Luther King Jr, a leader in nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement. MLK Day is a federal holiday.

A Long Weekend

Paper saying "long weekend."
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MLK Day was initially chosen to be on King’s birthday (January 15th). However, it’s now celebrated on the third Monday of January to give Americans a long weekend.

2: Groundhog Day

Groundhog coming out of hole.
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Date: February 2nd

Groundhog Day is technically a tradition rather than a holiday. You won’t encounter employers giving their employees the day off, except, perhaps, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where eager viewers wait to see if a groundhog emerges from its burrow.

The Significance of Punxsutawney Phil’s Shadow

Groundhog sitting up.
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Since the 16th century, Americans (and some Canadians) have waited to see if Punxsutawney Phil, the name of the groundhog they choose, will emerge from its burrow without casting a shadow. If that happens, spring will supposedly arrive early. But if Punxsutawney Phil sees its shadow, the saying goes that winter will chug on for six more weeks.

3: Presidents’ Day

President heads at Mount Rushmore.
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Date: Third Monday in February

Presidents’ Day was founded as a federal holiday in 1879 to celebrate all of the people who have been presidents in the United States. It also goes by the names Washington’s Birthday, and the apostrophe placed on “Presidents” varies, with some leaving it out altogether.

The Chosen Date

American flag cupcakes and coffee.
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Presidents’ Day was celebrated on George Washington’s Birthday from 1879 to the late 1960s. But in a push to give employees more time off, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed it to the third Monday in February.

4: Memorial Day

Graves with American flags for Memorial Day.
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Date: Last Monday in May

Memorial Day is one of the most patriotic times in the USA, for it’s a time to honor and mourn U.S. troops who’ve died during their service.

How Americans Celebrate Memorial Day

American soldier kneeling by a grave.
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Americans celebrate Memorial Day by visiting the cemeteries of loved military family and friends who’ve died. Some people attend memorials, and parades are common. Memorial Day is the unofficial mark of summer in the United States.

5: Independence Day

Dog running with American flag.
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Date: July 4th

Most countries have a version of Independence Day, but July 4th is unique to the US. Independence Day is a federally recognized holiday and commemorates when the United States of America became officially established on July 4, 1776.

Fireworks Galore

People watching fireworks at night.
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America’s Independence Day falls during the heart of summer. Families and friends take to the street to watch parades by day and fireworks at night. Picnics, barbecues, concerts, and baseball games are iconic activities to participate in on Independence Day.

6: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner table.
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Date: Fourth Thursday in November

Thanksgiving is an increasingly controversial American holiday, but one beloved for food, family, and friend time. The holiday began in 1621 when Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared a fall harvest meal. Although certain other countries, including Canada, have a Thanksgiving-like day, there’s nothing like experiencing this holiday in the US.

Gluttonous Eating

Food at Thanksgiving dinner.
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Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie are just a few of the many types of foods that Americans eat on Thanksgiving. Many people joke about needing to wear stretchy pants after a Thanksgiving meal.

Why Thanksgiving Is Controversial

Pilgrim and Native American cookies.
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As people have become more woke to America’s not-so-pleasant past, some Americans greet Thanksgiving with muted enthusiasm. Thanksgiving tends to glorify the Pilgrims while ignoring the violence that Native Americans endured because of them.

Black Friday

Woman holding a bag that says "Black Friday."
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Date: Day after Thanksgiving

Black Friday isn’t an official holiday in the USA, but don’t tell that to the thousands of people who camp in front of stores on Thanksgiving evening. Their goal? To snag early bird deals and other discounts businesses offer on Black Friday, kickstarting the Christmas gift-buying season.

19 Misconceptions Non-Americans Have About the US

String of American flags.
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To some foreigners, Americans are morbidly obese individuals at a high risk of being involved in a firearm incident. Americans know this isn’t (always) the case, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating to hear stereotypes about us that aren’t usually true.

19 Misconceptions Non-Americans Have About the U.S.

10 Coastal Cities Sinking Into the Ocean, One in the U.S.

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Residents in certain coastal cities are all too familiar with the concept of sinking land. Buildings that are too heavy for the ground to support and people extracting too much groundwater are among the worst offenders. These are the world’s fastest-sinking coastal cities.

10 Coastal Cities Sinking Into the Ocean, One in the U.S.

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