The United States has a large and diversified population that observes several different types of cultural holidays throughout the year. Many of these cultural holidays attract other ethnic groups to join the festivities due to the glamorous pageantry. America is a cultural hodgepodge of proud people who enjoy celebrating their differences by demonstrating interest in one another's ethnic culture. This is a reason why the U.S remains a magnet for immigrants worldwide.
Chinese New Year
This cultural holiday begins on a different day each year and is the most important holiday in Chinese culture in America. Family members travel long distances for yearly reunions and gather for large feasts. Chinese New Year's tradition dictates that a meal is set out to honor departed ancestors. The Chinese decorate their homes with live plants, flowers, candy trays and inspirational messages. The celebration of Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the New Moon and commences with the full moon 15 days later. Each day of the holiday has a different significant meaning; the last day of the holiday ends with the Lantern Festival, which is a nighttime parade involving lanterns carried by children.
Mardi Gras is a French term that translates to Fat Tuesday; this is the last celebration and chance for indulgence before Christian Lent. Lent is a 40-day period of purification and refraining from extravagance. Mardi Gras' date changes each year but always occurs during February or March. Mardi Gras is a carnival celebrated throughout the gulf coast, with New Orleans festivities being the most famous in the United States. Several glitzy and enchanting parades organized by carnival krewes involve 15 or more floats decorated in various themes. Krewe members toss numerous objects like coins, beads and candy to the revelers who gather. Each krewe chooses a royal court that includes a carnival king and queen who present an elegant costume ball that is by invitation only. Guests attending the ball dress in formal wear.
St. Patrick's Day
The Irish holiday St. Patrick's Day begins on March 17 annually. This holiday commemorates St. Patrick, the patron saint that introduced Christianity to Ireland. Irish families attend church for religious ceremonies in the morning then spend the night feasting and dancing. Worldwide parades held in St. Patrick's honor mark this spring cultural holiday. The first St. Patrick's Day parade occurred in America on March 17, 1762, in New York City. Green is a color synonymous with Ireland; therefore, green is a theme color for the festive St. Patrick's Day parades.
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo honors the Mexican militia win over the French in the battle of Puebla. Frequently labeled incorrectly as Mexico's Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo translates to the 5th of May. Mexico's actual independence day falls on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is not a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico, but more of a regional one only commemorated in the state of Puebla. This cultural holiday transcended into America through individuals with Mexican heritage. Cinco de Mayo celebrations across the U.S. include authentic Mexican food, dances, music and drinks.
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