The start of New Year’s Day, at midnight on January 1st, is heralded by fireworks, parties and special events, which are often televised. Very few people have to work on the day itself. For many it is a day of recovery from the New Year’s Eve celebrations the previous night. In some towns and cities, parades are held and special football games are played. The birth of the first baby in the New Year is often celebrated with gifts to his or her parents and appearances in local newspapers and on local news shows. Many people make New Year’s resolutions. These are usually promises to themselves that they will improve something in their own lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, to lose weight, exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle.
Martin Luther King Day, January 20th is a relatively new federal holiday and there are few long standing traditions. It is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.
Things you can do to celebrate this January!
- Make a list of resolutions to try to keep in the new year
- Share with your host family what you do for new years in your home country and when it is
- Eat food considered lucky to eat going into the New Year! In America, these include black eyed peas, cabbage, and pork.
- Listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech
Share your holiday traditions and customs with a student from a different country. This is a great way to expand your knowledge and understanding of how other countries celebrate.
On December 25th, over 2 billion people (over a third of the world’s population) will celebrate Christmas Day! People celebrate Christmas Day in many ways. It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations. Many people decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts. In the days or even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees and much more.
It is common to organize a special meal, often consisting of turkey and a lot of other festive foods, for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children, in particular, often receive a lot of gifts from their parents and other relatives and the mythical figure Santa Claus. This has led to Christmas Day becoming an increasingly commercialized holiday, with a lot of families spending a large part of their income on gifts and food.
Many Sunday schools, churches and communities organize special events. These can include decorating the neighborhood or a shopping mall, putting up a Christmas tree and planning a Nativity display, concert or performance. A lot of plays and songs have an aspect of Christmas as a theme. Some groups arrange meals, shelter or charitable projects for people without a home or with very little money.
Things you can do to celebrate the holidays in America and share with an exchange visitor!
- Make a holiday decoration: paper snowflakes, green & red paper chain, or garland out of popcorn!
- Watch a holiday classic like Elf or How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Send holiday cards to nursing homes or troops overseas to let them know they’re remembered at Christmas
- Visit outdoor displays of Christmas lights and decorations with a cup a hot chocolate and marshmallows
Learn more about cultural exchange and the benefits at http://saeglobal.org/Read More