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· Facts for Features: Father's Day 2010 
· Facts for Features: Mother's Day 2010
· Facts for Features: Valentine's Day 2010

For High School Students
· Flag Day
· Groundhog Day
· How Valentine's Day Works

Teacher Resources
· Flag Foundation Educational Resouces
· Holidays Center
· Stars and Stripes Forever: Flag Facts for Flag Day
· Valentine’s Day Across the Curriculum

Link Lists
· Links to the News: Valentine's Day
· Yahoo! Holidays and Observances in the U.S.


Valentine's Day (heart and lovers)

Although the United States is young compared to other countries, its culture and traditions are rich because of the contributions made by the many groups of people who have come to its shores over the past two centuries. Hundreds of regional holidays have originated from the geography, climate and history of the different parts of the country. Each state holds its own annual fair with local themes and music; and some celebrate the day on which they joined the Union and became a state.

One other day that most Americans observe, even though it is not an official holiday, is February 14, Valentine's Day, named for an early Christian martyr whose feast day was once observed on that day. On this day, Americans give special symbolic gifts to people they love. They also send special greeting cards called Valentines to such people. Most commonly, the gifts are candy or flowers.

Other holidays such as "Groundhog Day" (February 2) are whimsically observed, at least in the media. The day is associated with folklore which has grown up in rural America. It is believed, by some, if the groundhog, or woodchuck comes out of its hole in the ground and sees its shadow on that day it will become frightened and jump back in. This means there will be at least six more weeks of winter. If it doesn't see its shadow, it will not be afraid and spring will begin shortly.

Flag Day is observed in the United States to commemorate the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

Most of the celebrating of New Year's Day takes place the night before, when Americans gather in homes or restaurants or other public places to enjoy good food and to wish each other a happy and prosperous year ahead. Balloons and paper streamers, fire crackers and other noisemakers are all around at midnight when the old year passes away and the new year arrives. Thousands throng to the Times Square celebration in New York to count down to the New Year - a celebration that's carried live on TV networks across the U.S.

Feature Articles

Flag Day: The Birthday of the Stars and Stripes
June 14 is Flag Day in the United States. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as America’s official flag in 1777 by the Continental Congress. The first flag consisted of 13 stars on a field of blue and 13 alternating red and white stripes, representing the original Colonies. As states were added, the flag was modified to reflect their addition to the nation. The 13 stripes remain, but today there is a star for each of the 50 states. Every year, the president proclaims June 14 as Flag Day and orders flags displayed on all federal buildings; many Americans fly the flag in front of homes and businesses. The week that includes June 14 is National Flag Week. ... (, June 14, 2010)

Confetti fills the air over Times Square in New York City where revelers gather December 31 to celebrate New Years Eve. (© AP Images)

Times Square a Focus of New Year's Eve Festivities
(, December 31,2008.)
If the beginning of a new year represents the chance to start anew, it surely is appropriate that millions of Americans associate New Year’s Eve with New York City’s Times Square. In a nation founded on the individual’s opportunity to reinvent himself or herself, its largest city always has been at the forefront of change, and supplied a nexus of energy, ambition and drive.

For much of the past century, the neighborhood, centered on the intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, similarly has been reinvented time and again, but remained always a place where New Yorkers -- in the words of the social commentator and Romanian immigrant Andrei Codrescu, that "quick, witty, generous but not stupid breed of citizen" -- come to play....

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
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Updated: September 2010