April Fool’s terrible history

If you plan on running a prank on your friend or colleague, try not to get arrested. Photo / iStock Brace yourself: April Fool’s Day, the worst holiday of the year, is upon us again, with its annual onslaught of awkward political gags, careless media blunders, eyeroll-inducing ad campaigns, mean-spirited pranks and, if you’re lucky, […]

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New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day is the first day of the year, January 1 in the Gregorian calendar. In the Middle Ages most European countries used the Julian calendar and observed New Year’s Day on March 25, called Annunciation Day and celebrated as the occasion on which it was revealed to Mary that she would give birth […]

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day, holiday observed annually in the United States in honor of all those, living and dead, who served with the U.S. armed forces. Unlike Memorial Day, which honors those who have died in wartime, Veterans Day honors all those who have served, in times of peace as well as in war. II ORIGINS OF VETERANS DAY Veterans Day is observed […]

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Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew, “beginning of the year”), Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri (falling in September or October) by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and on the first day alone by Reform Jews. It begins the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, a period ending with […]

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May Day

May Day is an holiday of ancient origin, observed on the first day of May, especially in Europe. It has traditionally been celebrated with merrymaking and festivities. Some experts trace May Day celebrations back to agricultural and fertility rites of pre-Christian times. Others associate May Day festivals with ancient Roman rites practiced in honor of Flora, the Roman goddess […]

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Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Carnival, annual festival marking the final day before the Christian fast of Lent, a 40-day period of self-denial and abstinence from merrymaking. Mardi Gras is the last opportunity for revelry and indulgence in food and drink before the temperance of Lent. The term Mardi Gras is French for “Fat […]

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Labor Day

Labor Day is legal holiday honoring workers, celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday in September. The observance includes parades and speeches reviewing labor’s contributions to society. In most of Europe the first of May—May Day—is set aside as a day to honor workers. II ORIGINS OF LABOR DAY IN THE UNITED STATES Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter […]

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Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, (matunda ya kwanza, Swahili for “first fruits”), an African American holiday observed by African communities throughout the world that celebrates family, community, and culture. It is a seven-day holiday that begins December 26 and continues through January 1. Kwanzaa has its roots in the ancient African first-fruit harvest celebrations from which it takes its […]

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Holiday

Holiday is a day set apart for religious observance or for the commemoration of some extraordinary event or distinguished person, or for some other public occasion. Holidays are characterized by a partial or total cessation of work and normal business activities and are generally accompanied by public and private ceremonies, including feasting (or fasting), parades […]

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Hanukkah

Hanukkah or Chanukah (Hebrew for “dedication”), annual festival of the Jewish people celebrated on eight successive days. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev, the third month of the Jewish calendar, corresponding, approximately, to December in the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, and Feast of the Maccabees. II […]

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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day, February 2 of each year when, according to tradition, the groundhog leaves the burrow where it has been hibernating to discover whether cold winter weather will continue. If the groundhog cannot see its shadow, it presumably remains above ground, ending its hibernation. But if its shadow is visible—that is, if the sun is shining—six more weeks of cold […]

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Flag Day

Flag Day, annual observance in the United States to celebrate the national flag. Flag Day is observed on June 14, the anniversary of the official adoption of the American flag by the Continental Congress in 1777. On Flag Day, public buildings and many individuals display the American flag as a gesture of patriotism and national […]

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