Celebrating U.S. Holidays — A Look at our Customs and Traditions

As a teacher at an ESL school, I get to welcome hundreds of foreign students each year. Throughout their time here, these students are able to experience all of the customs and traditions that are part of American culture. It’s especially exciting when a major holiday is approaching, because ESL school students get to see these customs and traditions for themselves.


Though some holidays that are celebrated in America are based on religious beliefs, there are many that have nothing to do with religion. The following list includes just a few of the holidays that are not religious in nature. Students who are in the process of enrolling in ESL school should take a look at these major U.S. holidays to see which ones they’ll be able to experience in person!


New Years Eve – On December 31st, friends and family gather together to celebrate the end of one year and beginning of another. Most people watch the ball drop over Times Square in New York City from the comfort of their own living room, a party, or a bar. It is a tradition to sing the song, “Auld Lang Syne,” and kisses someone near them right at midnight.


Valentine’s Day – This day is all about love. Children give their classmates sweet cards and candies, and husbands and wives exchange gifts. Valentines enjoy this love-filled day with a few chocolates and hugs for family and friends!


April Fool’s Day – Those who like practical jokes really enjoy this fun holiday. The whole idea is to trick those around you in a clever way that will make them laugh. Once you’ve played the trick, you announce “April Fools!” and reveal that you’re actually just celebrating the holiday.


Independence Day – July 4th marks the United States’ independence. Communities and businesses organize big fireworks events to celebrate the occasion, and many people also have outdoor BBQs with friends or family to make the celebrate the American spirit.

Halloween – This holiday is probably best known for three things — wild costumes, scary movies, and lots of candy! Students enrolled in an ESL school usually really enjoy this holiday because of the many seasonal activities that appear this time of year. Some fun traditions include going on a hay ride, visiting a haunted house, carving pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns, and dressing up for a costume party.