Top Cultural Celebrations in the US and How to Celebrate Them
In just a few days, people all across the world will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. When they do, you can expect to see families planting shamrocks, partaking in traditional St. Patrick’s Day crafts, and even celebrating special events in honor of the patron saint for which St. Patrick’s Day is named.
And as you spend time to reflect on the meaning of this special holiday, you may find your mind drawn to thoughts of other cultural celebrations and what it would be like to partake in them.
In this post, we’ll cover special holidays from cultures like Indian, Spanish, and Chinese, so you have a better understanding of exactly how cultural celebrations bring us all together.
#1: St. Patrick’s Day
With all of the St. Patty’s Day buzz going around right now, it comes as no surprise that this celebration is first on our list.
Named for the patron saint that brought Christianity to Ireland, the initial purpose of St. Patrick’s Day was to allow families and communities to come together for a massive banquet to give thanks to this influential figure.
Over the years, the holiday evolved into a secular celebration of Irish history in general. As such, families who have distinct Irish heritage have many more traditional methods of celebration than most others. While most families will come together for a meal of some kind, it’s important to Irish families that the meal consists of corned beef and cabbage.
Over time, St. Patrick's celebrations branched out of Ireland and into the US as Irish immigrants fled to escape British colonization. Many of these settlers first landed in Boston, where they were now free to celebrate their heritage without fear of British retaliation. As the years carried on, the knowledge and acceptance of the holiday grew into a nationwide appreciation.
Today, in areas with heavy Irish populations it’s common to see St. Patrick’s Day parades, as well as rivers and lakes that are turned green using environmentally-safe dye.
St. Patrick’s Day, however, is more than just a color. It is a time of togetherness where strangers can come together and celebrate shared values and rich cultural history.
#2: Divali (Diwali)
For those unaware, Divali is an Indian holiday that takes place in October and is celebrated primarily by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. This holiday usually lasts a total of five days and is celebrated through recurrent festivals, fireworks, prayer, gifts, banquets, and sweets.
In the lead-up to the week-long festivities, those who celebrate will begin decorating their homes and offices using items such as traditional oil lamps or Rangoli, which is made using fine, colored sand and illuminated by candles. Then, once the celebration begins, each of the five days of celebration is dedicated to a unique tradition.
For the first day of Divali, celebrators go out and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to invite fortune into their homes. On the second day, they further decorate their homes with rangoli using fine powders and sands arranged into colorful, unique patterns. Day three is then considered the main day of the festival and is dedicated to gathering families together for a massive banquet and then setting off fireworks. On day four, friends and relatives visit each other and partake in gift-giving and well-wishing for the upcoming year. Then, on day five, the festivities come to a close and brothers visit their married for a meal made with love.
Overall, the Divali holiday is celebrated primarily in India but is also seen in US cities where there are Indian-heavy populations. This isn’t surprising, however, when you consider that this holiday is as important to the Indian culture as Christmas is to Christians!
#3: Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, like many other culturally specific holidays we celebrate, was introduced to the United States by Chinese immigrants who traveled overseas in search of a better life. The celebration first began to catch on in coastal communities like California and New York before spreading across the continent with unmatched vigor.
In fact, the very first celebration of this event in the United States took place in San Francisco in 1858. While still very small, the festival worked to bring the community together during a time when it was needed most and has lived on in the hearts of many Americans (both Chinese and not) ever since.
Unlike typical American New Year celebrations, the Chinese New Year is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, rather than the solar one. Because of this, the festivities don’t start at the very beginning of the year but rather begin on the first new moon between January 21st and February 20th.
Once they begin, the festivities last a total of 15 days and incorporate incredible amounts of traditional celebration such as parades, music, banquets, and so much more in order to adequately welcome a new year and celebrate the passage of time.
#4: Cinco De Mayo
Another holiday that is right around the corner, Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican-based tradition that takes place on the 5th of May and celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
And while this holiday originally began in Mexico, it comes as no surprise that it quickly spread to the US, given the two countries’ close proximity.
For families who celebrate Cinco de Mayo as a part of their culture, Cinco De Mayo is a time of celebration, good tidings, and community closeness. Those who partake can expect to see a plethora of dancing and accompanying music, as well as tons of traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos and mole poblano.
What’s more about this holiday, however, is that Mexico is not even the largest source of celebration for it! Cinco De Mayo is not observed throughout all of Mexico, so many of the celebrations are very limited in the country.
Rather, the three biggest celebrations you can expect to see in regards to Cinco De Mayo are in Los Angles, Chicago, and Houston—all US cities!
How to Preserve the Memories of Your Holiday Traditions
With any of the above holidays, photos, mementos, and memories are a major part of the fun. Once all is said and done, however, you may find yourself wondering what to do with the thought of all those fun times you spent with your family and community.
Not to worry, though— LIFEazine can help!
With LIFEazine, you can plug photos and stories into a unique, magazine-style memoir so that those precious memories have a place in your heart and in your home forever.
So join in a variety of celebrations this year and share with us your magazine entries!
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