American Holidays

Technically, American holidays aren't holidays. The word holiday means "holy day," and the only paid federal festival that even approaches that description is Thanksgiving. Independence Day, Labor Day, Washington's Birthday, etc. might be holy according to the dogma of the civil religion, but as Christians we reserve adjectives like holy and sacred for Christ and His Church.

That doesn't mean we can't celebrate along with our countrymen. Liberty, justice and equality are American distinctives, and we thank God we live in a country where they're upheld (at least for the most part). To hold our freedom lightly would be ungrateful on our part, so we celebrate it humbly when we have the chance.

Our favorite distinctly American holiday is Thanksgiving. Given the circumstances of its first celebration it's a little ironic that it's a federal holiday, but we aren't complaining. You can read more about it in our Thanksgiving category. We also like Independence Day because Civil War reenactments are fun and fireworks are super rad, but we've given it the full treatment elsewhere.

Many of the other holidays observed by our federal government are less well known or universally celebrated. (We aren't talking about Christmas or New Year; those aren't distinctly American.) Who even knew Columbus Day was a holiday? Well, if you work at the post office or a bank you probably knew, but most of us are quite unaware.

Which is kind of a shame. While we wouldn't support Martin Luther King, Jr.'s theology, celebrating his birthday isn't a celebration of him so much as a memorial to the Civil Rights movement and the struggle of the black community to achieve equal rights and standing as citizens. Insofar as his efforts were a rallying point for many, the holiday bears his name.

Celebrating the birthdays of Columbus and George Washington is almost a no-brainer: without Christopher we wouldn't even be here, and without ol' Georgie we wouldn't be ruled by a president. Those may be broad strokes to paint in, but few nations in the world owe so much to two distinct individuals for their existence.

Of course, millions of others have helped build this land. Memorial Day remembers those Americans who've died in war, while Veterans Day honors everyone who's served in the armed forces; Labor Day is a tip of the hat to the workers of America, the solid constituency that built Chicago, ranched Colorado, and found gold in the middle of Alaska.

There aren't a lot of specifically American traditions. We like to rally around the ones we do have to promote cameraderie and peace, and these holidays provide just that opportunity. If you aren't into celebrating state-sponsored festivals, that's fine. But the fact that you can have that opinion and still enjoy your freedom says a lot for our country, and we're willing to show our gratitude a few times a year.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

Did you find this review helpful?
292 Items found Print
1620, Year of the Pilgrims
by Genevieve Foster
from Charles Scribner's Sons
History Reference/Biography for 7th-10th grade
in New World Colonization (Location: G3C-HIS)
1776
by David McCullough
from Simon and Schuster
for 10th-Adult
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$14.00
18 Penny Goose
An I Can Read Book Level 3
by Sally M. Walker
from HarperCollins
Realistic fiction for 2nd-4th grade
in I Can Read Books (Location: O5B-EAR)
$3.19
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from P&R Publishing
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Adventurous Life of Myles Standish
by Cheryl Harness
from National Geographic
for 4th-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
AIO Imagination Station Book #06
by Marianne Hering & Marshal Younger
from Focus on the Family
for 1st-3rd grade
in Imagination Station (Location: LFIC)
$3.99
AIO Imagination Station Book #13
by Marianne Hering, Nancy I. Sanders
from Focus on the Family
for 1st-3rd grade
in Imagination Station (Location: LFIC)
$3.99
AIO Imagination Station Book #14
by Marianne Hering, Nancy I. Sanders
from Focus on the Family
for 1st-3rd grade
in Imagination Station (Location: LFIC)
$3.99
AIO Imagination Station Book #15
by Marianne Hering, Nancy I. Sanders
from Focus on the Family
for 1st-3rd grade
in Imagination Station (Location: LFIC)
$3.99
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
Landmark #85
by Russel & Anna Crouse
from Random House
for 5th-9th grade
Almost Home
Daughters of the Faith
by Wendy G. Lawton
from Moody Press
Historical Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Daughters of the Faith (Location: LFIC)
$7.99
America's Ethan Allen
by Stewart H. Holbrook
from Houghton Mifflin
Picture Book Biography for 4th-6th grade
1950 Caldecott Honor Book
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
America's Paul Revere
by Esther Forbes
1st Edition, 4th Printing from Sandpiper Books
Biography for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$10.39
America's War of Independence
by David Rubel
from Silver Moon Press
Non-Fiction for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$7.95
American History for Young Students I
by Michelle Miller
from TruthQuest History
History Curriculum for 1st-5th grade
in TruthQuest History (Location: F8C-HIS)
$24.95 $17.50 (1 in stock)
American History Stories Volume 2
by Mara L. Pratt
from Yesterday's Classics
for 3rd-6th grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: L5A-FIC)
$9.95
American Revolution
Landmark Series
by Bruce Bliven
from Random House
Historical Non-fiction for 5th-8th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$5.99
American Revolution
America at War Series
by Alden Carter
from Grolier Publishing
Historical Non-fiction for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$6.95 $5.00 (4 in stock)
American Revolution
Landmark #83
by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
from Random House
for 5th-9th grade
American Revolution for Kids
by Janis Herbert
1st edition from Chicago Review Press
for 2nd-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1951 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$6.39
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
by Jean Fritz & Margot Tomes
from PaperStar Books
Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$5.59 $2.80 (1 in stock)
Anne Bradstreet
by Heidi L. Nichols
from P&R Publishing
Biography for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$13.99
Annie Henry and the Secret Mission
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from Crossway Books
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Apostle of Liberty
by Stephen McDowell
from Cumberland House
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Leaders in Action (Location: N6C-BIO)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Arrow Over the Door
by Joseph Bruchac
from Puffin Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$4.79
At Seneca Castle
by William W. Canfield
from Salem Ridge Press
for 7th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$10.50
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Dover Thrift Editions
by Benjamin Franklin
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$3.20 $2.50 (1 in stock)
Battle of Lexington
by Jonas Clark
from Nordskog Publishing
for 6th-10th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$8.50
Battle of Valcour Bay
Triangle Histories: The Revolutionary War
by Scott Ingram
from Blackbirch Press
for 3rd-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$4.00 (2 in stock)
Battle of Yorktown
Events That Shaped America
by Dale Anderson, Sabrina Crewe
from Gareth Stevens Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Becky Landers
by Constance Lindsay Skinner
from Bethlehem Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$10.36
Beginning of the Republic
A Basic History of the United States Volume 2
by Clarence B. Carson
from American Textbook Committee
American History Reference for 9th-Adult
in Basic History of the United States (Location: F4A-HIS)
$14.00
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Landmark Series
by Margaret Cousins
from Random House
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$5.99
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Landmark #28
by Margaret Cousins
from Random House
for 5th-8th grade
Benedict Arnold
Revolutionary War Leaders
by Norma Jean Lutz
from Chelsea House Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Benjamin Franklin
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$14.36
Benjamin Franklin
Heroes of History
by Geoff & Janet Benge
from Emerald Books
Biography for 4th-7th grade
in Heroes of History (Location: N7A-BIO)
$9.99
Benjamin Franklin
TIME for Kids Biographies
by Editors of TIME For Kids
from HarperCollins
Biography for 4th-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Benjamin Franklin, American Genius
by Brandon Marie Miller
from Chicago Review Press
for 4th-6th grade
in Colonial America (1690-1765) (Location: G3C-HIS)
Benjamin Franklin: The Autobiography and Other Writings
Signet Classics
by Benjamin Franklin
Reprint from Signet Classics
Autobiography for 9th-Adult
in 18th Century Literature (Location: MLIT5-18)
$4.76
Betsy Ross and the Flag
Landmark #26
by Jane Mayer
from Random House
for 5th-8th grade
Betsy Ross: Designer of our Flag
Childhood of Famous Americans
by Ann Weil
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Childhood of Famous Americans (Location: N7D-COFA)
$7.99 $4.00 (1 in stock)
Biography of Benjamin Franklin
Sons of Liberty Series
by William M. Thayer
from A Beka Books
for 5th-9th grade
in A Beka Book Report books (Location: E-REA)
Biography of George Washington
Sons of Liberty Series
by William M. Thayer
from A Beka Books
for 5th-9th grade
in A Beka Book Report books (Location: E-REA)
Black Heroes of the American Revolution
by Burke Davis
from Harcourt, Brace & World
for 4th-10th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Boston Tea Party
from Troll Communications
for 2nd-5th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: G3D-HIS)
Boys of '76
by Charles Coffin
from Maranatha Publications
Historical Reference for 10th-Adult
in America's Christian Heritage (Location: G7D-HIS)
$19.97 $12.00 (1 in stock)
Bulletproof George Washington
by David Barton
2nd edition from WallBuilder Press
Biography for 9th-adult
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
$5.00 $3.00 (1 in stock)
Bunker Hill
Drums of War Book 2
by Peter Reese Doyle
from Providence Foundation
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.00 (2 in stock)
123456