Late autumn and early winter bring some of the most iconic and celebrated holidays in American culture. For many people, these holidays are a time when families get together and form many fond memories. Below you will find a list of the most celebrated holidays of the season. Happy holidays from the Alameda County Libraries!
Diwali\Deepvali, November 9th-13th
During the festival of Diwali, homes and night skies are bright and festive with light! This ancient Hindu holiday is celebrated over four or five days, and marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Lamps and lights are lit around homes and temples, and firecrackers are set off at night. Many people honor Diwali by cleaning, paying off old debts, and wearing new clothes.
Veteran’s Day, November 11th
Veterans Day is a time for Americans to honor and give thanks to the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It is a federal holiday, with schools, places of business and government offices closing out of respect.
Thanksgiving, November 26th
Feasts celebrating and giving thanks for the harvest were a common occurrence in colonial New England. However, it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became an official annual holiday, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. Today many American families celebrate by gathering for a home-cooked meal that traditionally includes foods such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Hanukkah, December 7th- December 14th
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, according to the Hebrew calendar, and lasts for 8 days. Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish Maccabees defeat over the tyrant rule of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV. Jewish families celebrate by lighting candles in a menorah, eating traditional foods, and exchanging money or gifts.
Winter Solstice, December 22nd
The Winter Solstice celebrates the shortest day of the year as well as the longest night. Winter solstice symbolizes rebirth for many cultures.
Christmas Day, December 25th
Christmas Day is a holiday many Christian families celebrate to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. During this holiday, families give gifts to friends and to each other. Many people like to decorate Christmas trees and visit relatives.
Kwanzaa, December 26th- January 1st
Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates African American traditions, families and values. Families tend to give gifts during Kwanzaa celebrations.
New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve, December 31st-January 1st
New Year’s Eve celebrates the end of the Gregorian/ Western calendar. During this holiday, people celebrate by welcoming the New Year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, many cultures have different customs for bringing in the new year.