The American Holiday Season – Let the Presents/Candy/Party Begin

by Beverly Cole - Saturday, November 14th, 2015 @ 6:24 AM

For American kids, this is a fantastic time of year. The U.S. Holiday Season is upon us. Beginning with Halloween and ending New Year’s Day, families across the country enjoy a great deal of celebration at school, the office, and home.

The first holiday of “the season” is an all-time favorite for U.S. children and adults alike. Halloween dates back over 2000 years to the Druids, an ancient Celtic culture, who would celebrate the harvest with spooky superstitions. After the mass immigration of Scottish and Irish residents to the U.S., Americans began the Halloween tradition in the 19th century. Every year on October 31st, children and many adults across America dress up in costumes ranging from the adorable (like fuzzy teddy bears) to the scary (like bloodied zombies) to the spectacular (like electrically illuminated rainbows). School Halloween parades abound with costume-clad classes, and many kids travel door-to-door trick-or-treating for chocolate candy bars, lollipops, and other sugary treats throughout their neighborhoods. Parents buy candy by the pound and decorate the outsides of their homes with ghosts, tombstones, witches, cobwebs, and spiders to welcome the trick-or-treaters.

Second, Thanksgiving is a family-oriented holiday that occurs in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of every November. Dating back to the early 17th century, the first European settlers in America gave thanks for a good crop season. Today, the day is famous for family and school reunions, parades, and football. And food! Americans eat over 525 million pounds of turkey and millions of pounds of cranberries on Thanksgiving. Tables are not complete without sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, gravy for the turkey, cornbread and butter, and green beans with almonds. It is no wonder that the average American consumes 4,500 calories that day!

Next, December brings Christmas (December 25th) for Christian kids, Hanukkah (varies by year) for Jewish children, and Kwanzaa for African-American youth (December 26th through January 1st). On Christmas Eve, Santa and his helpers (aka parents) place gifts under the tree for children to find Christmas morning when many families enjoy treats like candy canes and egg nog. Hannukah, the festival of lights, celebrates the miracle of a Jewish victory thousands of years ago against the Seleucid Empire. Today, Jewish families light special candelabras called menorahs, eat latkes and chocolate gelt, and spin dreidels (Jewish tops). Traditionally, parents would give children money during the holiday, but over time, the tradition has evolved into presents for eight joyous nights in a row. Finally, Kwanzaa celebrates African culture, and families enjoy traditional African attire, food, and music. Traditional meals can include jerk chicken, collard greens, and coconut pound cake.

U.S. children especially look forward to this time of year because December holidays mean time off from school. During their two-week vacation, most American children put down their books to experience the joy of holiday festivities, skiing, or a beach. Although studying is generally the last thing on kids’ minds during this school break, there are exceptions, like the academically motivated English Hound students who enjoy learning even when traveling. Additionally, many kids catch up on favorite reads like Harry Potter or The Secrets of Droon during this time as a way to relax.

The last stop on our holiday junket is New Year’s Eve. Like children worldwide, U.S. kids excitedly wait for the ball to drop and count down to midnight to ring in the New Year.

No matter what you celebrate, may it be happy and healthy!


About the Author

Beverly Cole Beverly Cole

Beverly Cole is the Communications Director of English Hound (, a NY based distance learning company specializing in tutoring K - 12th grade students in reading and writing. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University School of Law. She lives in Florida with her husband and two children.

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