Cultura americana y vacaciones americanas

Ilustración comparando el Día de la Independencia, el Día de los Caídos y el Día de Acción de Gracias en la cultura estadounidense para aquellos interesados en las festividades de EE. UU.

Introduction

 

American culture is the result of a mixture of various cultures. It is formed mainly by Western and European influences. To these influences were added cultural elements of the native inhabitants of the region. Subsequently, other cultural values of Africa, Asia, and Latin America were added due to large migratory waves.

It is precisely from the fusion of cultural elements of diverse origins that America constitutes and develops its own culture. The passage of time allowed the construction of an authentic culture capable of generating its own characteristics. These are expressed in terms of dialect, arts, social habits, and folklore, among many other means of expression.

An obvious example that shows the history of American culture is the Holidays. They constitute identity marks of this nation and reflect the country's history by commemorating significant events. In other cases, holidays allow people to remember and exalt signification personalities in the formation of the nation. That is why the festivities are interpreted as an expression of a country's culture.

There are eleven federal holidays recognized by the United States government

Celebration

Date

New Year’s Day

January 1

Martin Luther King’s Birthday

3rd Monday in January

Washington’s Birthday

3rd Monday in February

Memorial Day

last Monday in May

Juneteenth National Independence Day

June 19

Independence Day

July 4

Labor Day

1st Monday in September

Columbus Day

2nd Monday in October

Veterans’ Day

November 11

Thanksgiving Day

4th Thursday in November

Christmas Day

December 25


According to an official website of the United States government, The Federal Government recognizes eleven holidays, and each of these has a special connotation.  However, the cultural changes that occurred throughout history have caused the same tradition to adapt to the way it's perceived by different generations.

The present article proposes an approach to 3 of the most important celebrations in America. Each of them is part of the history of American culture.

Independence Day



 

July 4, 1776, marks the Declaration of Independence. This was adopted by the Continental Congress two days after a vote on whether to secede from the UK. That's why the festivities are interpreted as an expression of a country's culture. The Declaration, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, constitutes the birth certificate of the United States, declaring American independence from British power.

History

 

Even though these founding fathers signed the document in the 1700s, Independence Day didn't officially become a public holiday until 1870, becoming a federal payday in 1941. The tradition of fireworks at a celebration date back to 1777. Just one year after the declaration of independence, a celebration in Philadelphia included 13 fireworks on the Commons in honor of the 13 colonies.

In the late 19th century, hot dogs became extremely popular in the United States. These are now a staple at any 4th of July cookout. Americans consumed at least 150 million hot dogs on July 4, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Additionally, 10% percent of annual retail hot dog sales occur during the month of July, which is designated as National Hot Dog Month.

 
Celebrations of the Independence Day have hardly changed over time

Date / Celebration / Food

Old Independence Day

Present Independence Day

Date

2 July

4 July

Celebration

Patriotic decorations, explosive fireworks, celebratory cannonade, gala dinner, and running Independence Day parade

Patriotic decorations, explosive fireworks, celebratory cannonade, gala dinner, and running Independence Day parade

Food

Share Traditional meals

Eat hot dogs


Present

How Americans celebrate independence hasn’t changed much. America currently consumes massive quantities of fireworks in honor of this holiday. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the country imported more than 250 million pounds of fireworks in 2019.

This date is celebrated in many different ways depending on each region. Celebrations include barbecues, picnics, festivals, baseball, parades, even events held across the country in his honor. In Atlanta, for example, people make room for all that food by running the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the world's longest 10K. And in New York's Coney Island, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is practically its own holiday.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays in America. It's celebrated on the last Monday of each May and aims to commemorate with honor the men and women who died in the service of the country's army. On this national holiday, cities across America pay tribute to their heroes who have fought in conflicts from the American Revolution of 1776 to the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

This commemorative date, born from the heart of the history of America, has been conforming over the years to become what is known today. Because of its importance in the history of American culture, I propose to see it in detail.

History

Several cities claim to have instituted Memorial Day, however, in 1966 Congress declared Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of the holiday. Waterloo was selected because, on May 5, 1866, the city's residents celebrated Memorial Day in honor of all who died during the Civil War. On that date, businesses closed and soldiers' graves were decorated.

Beyond this first holiday record, the official origin of Memorial Day dates back to 1868. That year, Commander John A. Logan, through the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order Number 11 to honor the most of 620,000 soldiers killed in the Civil War.

New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873, and all the Northern states followed in 1890. The South refused to recognize the date and honored its military heroes on separate days until after World War I, when the commemoration was changed to honor Americans who had died in all wars. Until now, Memorial Day had been born with the purpose of honoring the soldier dead of the Civil War. However, now a new historical conception was born in which the celebration remembered those who fell in other confrontations with the purpose of defending the nation.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holidays Act that led nearly every state to observe Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. However, several Southern states have separate additional days to honor the Confederate war dead. Texas does so on January 19, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi on April 26, South Carolina on May 10, and Louisiana and Tennessee on June 3.

One of the traditions to commemorate this date is to wear a poppy flower on the lapel. This tradition is inspired in the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” by the writer Moina Michael. The poet came up with the idea of using red poppies on the holiday in honor of those killed in action. The poet sold the flowers to her friends and co-workers and donated the money to veterans in need.

Later, Frenchwoman Madam Guerin brought the custom to France to raise funds for war orphans and widows. Thus, the American tradition spread to other countries. In 1922, Guerin contacted the United States-based Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), which was the first organization to sell the flowers nationwide. Two years later, disabled veterans made artificial red poppies to raise money for the organization.

Subsequently, other traditions have been added to Veterans Day. For example, in December 2000, Congress passed a resolution urging all Americans to pause on Memorial Day at 3 p.m., and observe a moment of silence or otherwise personally honor and remember the heroes who have given their lives in service to the nation.

Present

 

Today, on Memorial Day, the President or Vice President of the United States delivers a speech honoring those who have fallen in action and the American soldiers who have fought in conflicts around the world. They also lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington Cemetery, in the neighboring state of Virginia.

On this date, Volunteers adorn the tombs of the Cemetery with small flags of the nation. This tradition is repeated throughout the country in cemeteries and military graves. Also in big and small cities, parades and special ceremonies are held in honor of military heroes. The parades of cities like Washington, Chicago, and New York stand out.

On the morning of Memorial Day, the American flag is raised to the top of the pole and then solemnly lowered halfway in mourning. It stays like this until noon and then hoisted again to the end. As already mentioned, at 3 in the afternoon a minute of silence is observed to remember the fallen and some people continue to commemorate the date by wearing a poppy flower on their lapel.

Another holiday tradition is the National Memorial Day Concert held on the West Lawn of the Capitol in honor of the men and women who have given their lives for our country.

Thanksgiving



 

Thanksgiving Day is one of the most important celebrations in America. It's celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November to separate a special moment to give thanks for all the benefits obtained during the year; health, work, well-being, and love.

History

 

The origin of this celebration dates back to 1621. On this date, the newly arrived English in Plymouth, currently Massachusetts, offered a dinner to the native Wampanoag.  It was a perfect way of thanking them for teaching farming and hunting techniques that were essential for their survival.

According to the English chronicler Edward Winslow, the pilgrims met the indigenous Squanto, who helped them survive the harsh winter. Harvesting their first corn, the settlers decided to throw a party to celebrate the event.

It is recorded that the first celebration had 90 indigenous guests and the dinner consisted of deer, duck, goose, venison, shellfish, white bread, cornbread, and vegetables. Thus, began Thanksgiving Day.

Later, the holiday began to be filled with legend and symbolism, and the traditional Thanksgiving meal included turkey stuffed with fruits and vegetables, bread, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

The turkey became the star of the dinner because in those years these wild animals abounded in the region. So, the hunters went after the turkeys. It is important to mention that these were not domestic turkeys, but wild ones.

In 1939, it was brought forward Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November by President Franklin Roosevelt. The goal was extending the Christmas shopping period and stimulating economic activity during the Great Depression. Two years later, Roosevelt declared this date a national celebration. Before this date, presidents declared a holiday based on how they felt, however, in 1941 it became official.

The most important Thanksgiving tradition is a big meal with family or friends

Duration / Dinner / Traditions

Old Thanksgiving

Present Thanksgiving

Duration time

Full week

A day

Dinner Menu

Duck, venison, or seafood for the meat, and cabbage, onions, corn, and squash for the sides

Turkey stuffed with wild rice, pumpkin pie, hazelnuts in stuffing, and desserts

After meal traditions

Different Native and collective games like Blind Man’s Bluff

Watching football on T.V. or playing football in the backyard. Go shopping.

 

Present

 

Currently, this day continues to be celebrated with the famous meal where the turkey serves as the main dish. In addition, on this date, it has become a tradition to play American football games and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Beyond the changes that this celebration has had, the essence of the day has remained in time. It is still an opportunity to give thanks for all the good things we have in life. In addition, it is a perfect time to spend with family and friends and start preparations for Christmas.

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, Holidays in the United States express the culture of the country. Each of these dates marks a signification moment in American history. In this sense, each American feels part of his history, celebrating and commemorating important dates through traditions. Also, holidays are an effective method of teaching history and culture. During these dates, everyone learns and celebrates ancient traditions that are part of the country's culture. These are because, by experiencing cultural changes and creating new ways to celebrate these dates, Americans are witnesses to what will become a tradition and symbol of American culture in the future.

 

Date: October 10th, 2022

Author: Research Team AmeriLingua


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