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Exhibit: Americans love Holidays

(illustrated with postage stamps)



UNDER CONSTRUCTION - May - Dec. in progress.




New Year's Day (Jan.1) - Federal holiday.  The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Baby New year 2000  stamp

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday (third Monday) - Federal holiday. Observed, on a day other than his date of birth. Civil rights leader. It became a federal holiday in 1986.


Chinese New Year - (The Chinese year 4710 begins on Jan. 23, 2012.) The most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, the New Year is a time for family reunions. In the United States, however, many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community by celebrating the holiday through neighborhood associations.

Chinese New Year stamp


Groundhog Day (Feb 2) - The most-watched weather forecast of the year  Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow, he'll return to his hole, and winter will last another six weeks. Groundhog day stamp
Lincoln's Birthday (Feb 12) - Born on Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin in backwoods Hardin co., Ky. (now Larue co.). This day was first formally observed in Washington, DC, in 1866, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address in tribute to the assassinated president. In some places, it is combined with Washington's Birthday and celebrated as President's Day. 1869 Abraham Lincoln stamp
St. Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) - Originally a pagan festival, the holiday eventually was recast as a Christian feast day in honor of St. Valentineóbut there are at least three different early saints by that name. How the day became associated with romance remains obscure, and is further clouded by various fanciful legends. Love  stamp
Presidents Day (Third Monday) - Federal holiday. Washington's Birthday, now commonly known as a combined holiday to celebrate all presidents birthdays. The actual date of Washington's birthday is Feb. 22. It is a common misconception that the federal holiday was changed to "Presidents' Day. Only Washington is commemorated by the federal holiday; 13 states, however, officially celebrate "Presidents' Day." George Washington  stamp
Mardi Gras ( a day before Ash Wednesday) - Shrove Tuesday marks the end of the carnival season, which once began on Epiphany but is now usually celebrated the last three days before Lent. In France, the day is known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), and celebrations are held in several American cities, particularly New Orleans. The day is sometimes called Pancake Tuesday by the English because fats, which were prohibited during Lent, had to be used up. Mardi Gras stamp
Ash Wednesday (seventh Wednesday before Easter ) - The first day of Lent, which lasts 40 days. Having its origin sometime before A.D. 1000, it is a day of public penance and is marked in the Roman Catholic Church by the burning of the palms blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday. With the ashes from the palms the priest then marks a cross with his thumb upon the forehead of each worshipper. The Anglican Church and a few Protestant groups in the United States also observe the day, but generally without the use of ashes. Ash Wednesday stamp


Purim (14th day of Adar) - The joyous holiday of Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jews from the wicked Haman, through the leadership of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai. The holiday is marked by the reading of the Book of Esther (the Megillah), by the exchange of gifts, and by donations to the poor. Purim stamp
St. Patrick's day (March 17) - St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, has been honored in America since the first days of the nation. Perhaps the most notable observance is the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City.  Ironically, for almost its entire history St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated with far greater fanfare in Boston or New York than it was in Galway or Dublin. The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in New York City on March 17, 1762. Irish soldiers serving in the British colonial army staged a parade celebrating their heritage. St Patrick's day stamp


April Fool's day (April 1) - The origins of April Fool's Day are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar. April fool stamp
Passover (15th day of Nissan) - The Feast of the Passover, also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The holiday of Pesach, or Passover, celebrates God's freeing the Jews from bondage in Egypt through the leadership of Moses also known as the celebration of the Exodus. As the Jews fled, they ate unleavened bread, and from that time the Jews have allowed no leavening in their houses during Passover, bread being replaced by matzoh. Pass Over stamp
Easter (first Sunday after March 21) - Christians celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some aspects of modern Easter celebrations, however, pre-date Christianity. The celebration date was fixed by the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. According to the Venerable Bede, Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. easter stamp


May Day (May 1) - Although celebrated with far greater fanfare in other countries, May Day in the United States is a celebration of Spring as well as a day honoring organized labor.  
Cinco de Mayo (May 5) - Looking for a reason to celebrate? Break out a bottle of tequila, it's  Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May). Although it is often referred to as Mexico's Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo actually marks the 1862 battle in Puebla when a small, outnumbered Mexican army defeated the French, a turning point in Mexico's struggle for independence. Ironically, it is a holiday that is in fact more beloved by Americans than by Mexicans. Cinco de Mayo stamp
VE-day (May 8) - VE-DAY marks formal celebration of the Allies' victory in Europe during World War II. On Mar. 7, 1945, the Western Allies crossed the Rhine and overran West Germany. German collapse came after a meeting (Apr. 25) of the Western and Russian armies at Torgau in Saxony, and  Hitler's death. The unconditional surrender of Germany was signed at Rheims on May 7 and ratified at Berlin on May 8. VE-DAY stamp
Mother's Day (second Sunday) - Mother's Day in the United States originated in 1872 with Julia Ward Howe, a writer, abolitionist, and suffragist who wrote the words to "Battle Hymn of the Republic." In 1911, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. The custom of honoring mothers goes back at least as far as 17th-century England, which celebrated (and still celebrates) Mothering Sunday.  
Memorial Day ( last Monday) - Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971. It originated in 1868, when Union General John A. Logan designated a day in which the graves of Civil War soldiers would be decorated. Originally known as Decoration Day, the holiday was changed to Memorial Day within 20 years, becoming a holiday dedicated to the memory of all war dead.  


Flag Day (June 14) - This day commemorates the adoption by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, of the Stars and Stripes as the U.S. flag. Although it is a legal holiday only in Pennsylvania, President Truman, on Aug. 3, 1949, signed a bill requesting the president to call for its observance each year by proclamation.  
Father's Day (third Sunday) - The exact origin of the holiday is not clear, but it was first celebrated June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Wash. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation making Father's Day official.  


Independence Day (July 4) - The day of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, celebrated in all states and territories. The observance began the next year in Philadelphia.  
Ramadan (ninth month of the Islamic calendar) (begins July 19 for 2012) - For more than a billion Muslims around the world-including some 8 million in North America-Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity. This year Ramadan precedes Christmas and Hanukkah. But while in many places these holidays have become widely commercialized, Ramadan retains its focus on self-sacrifice and devotion to Allah (God).  




Labor Day (first Monday) - Federal holiday. Labor Day was first celebrated in New York in 1882 under the sponsorship of the Central Labor Union, following the suggestion of Peter J. McGuire, of the Knights of Labor, that the day be set aside in honor of labor.  
Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 16, 2012) - Jews will begin celebrating one of their most important religious holidays, Rosh Hashanah. It remembers the creation of the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means the "head of the year." It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets. The blowing of a ram's horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services.  Jews used the ram's horn as a trumpet in Biblical times to announce the new moon, holidays, and war. Today, a variety of horns are used, including curved antelope horns.  
Yom Kippur (ten days after Rosh Hashanah  started) - This day marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is described in Leviticus as a "Sabbath of rest," and synagogue services begin the preceding sundown, resume the following morning, and continue to sundown.  


Columbus Day (second Monday) - Federal holiday. Commemorates Christopher Columbus's landing in the New World in 1492. Quite likely the first celebration of Columbus Day was that organized in 1792 by the Society of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, widely known as Tammany Hall.  
Halloween (Oct 31) - Eve of All Saints' Day, formerly called All Hallows and Hallowmass. Halloween is traditionally associated in some countries with customs such as bonfires, masquerading, and the telling of ghost stories. These are old Celtic practices marking the beginning of winter.  


All Saints Day (Nov. 1) - A Roman Catholic and Anglican holiday celebrating all saints, known and unknown.  
Election Day (first Tuesday) - Since 1845, by act of Congress, Tuesday is the date for choosing presidential electors. State elections are also generally held on this day. The date is a legal holiday in certain states.  
Veterans day (Nov 11) - Federal holiday. Armistice Day, was established in 1926 to commemorate the signing in 1918 of the armistice ending World War I. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all men and women who have served America in its armed forces. Official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day center around the Tomb of the Unknowns. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil.  
Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday) - Federal holiday. Observed by act of Congress (1941), it was the first such national proclamation issued by President Lincoln in 1863, on the urging of Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book. Most Americans believe that the holiday dates back to the day of thanks ordered by Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony in New England in 1621, but scholars point out that days of thanks stem from ancient times.  


Advent Sunday (four Sundays before Christmas) - Advent is the season in which the faithful must prepare themselves for the coming, or advent, of the Savior on Christmas.  
Hanukkah (Dec. 9 in 2012) - This festival was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus in 165 B.C. to celebrate the purification of the Temple of Jerusalem. It had been desecrated three years earlier by Antiochus Epiphanes, who set up a pagan altar and offered sacrifices to Zeus Olympius. In Jewish homes, a lamp or candle is lighted on each night of the eight-day festival.  
Christmas (Dec 25) - The most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Christmas customs are centuries old. The mistletoe, for example, comes from the Druids, who, in hanging the mistletoe, hoped for peace and good fortune. Comparatively recent is the Christmas tree, first set up in Germany in the 17th century. Colonial Manhattan Islanders introduced the name Santa Claus, a corruption of the Dutch name St. Nicholas, who lived in fourth-century Asia Minor.  
Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 in 2012) - This secular seven-day holiday was created by Black Studies professor Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 in the U.S., to reaffirm African values and serve as a communal celebration among African peoples in the diaspora. Modeled on first-fruits celebrations, it reflects seven principles, the Nguzo Saba: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.  
New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) - Closing out the year and welcoming in a new year. Traditions include a resolution, something you vow to improve or to perform faithfully that you have not otherwise performed very well or accurately in the preceding year(s). A good way to define a New Year's resolution is ... a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals or projects; or the reforming of a habit.  




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Last updated

February 10, 2016 07:22 AM



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