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Simon Migaj

AMERICAN vs EUROPEAN HOLIDAYS

It’s already been more than 1 year since my adventure in the US started so it’s a perfect time to summarize my experiences with all the American holidays throughout the year. I have always been wondering what are the traditions here like. Some of them are pretty much the same as in Europe, some have surprised me a lot how different they or there are some holidays that I’ve heard about only from TV/movies so I didn’t know what to expect.

I moved here last year in April so the first new holiday I’ve had a chance to experience was the Memorial Day at the end of May. The only fact I knew about its history was that it originated following the Civil War. Every year it occurs on Monday so it was really nice to have a longer weekend and a perfect opportunity to go on a weekend trip somewhere. Beside visiting cemeteries or having family gatherings I think that’s what most people actually do and there’s no special celebration of this holiday.

A completely different experience was the Independence Day on the 4th of July. Based on its history, this day is very important for Americans so it’s usually a big celebration, a lot of fireworks, festivities etc. This year it’s going to be my forth Independence Day ( I’ve already had a chance to celebrate it couple of years ago when I used to work at a summer camp on the East Coast ) so I pretty much knew what to expect. However, in Los Angeles my experience was a little bit different and watching the fireworks by the beach was really amazing.

On the contrary, autumn has been full of surprises. It started with Halloween on October 31st that is in my opinion the biggest holiday in the United States. The Halloween decorations everywhere were really overwhelming, especially when I was coming home from work in the evening and all these giant spiders, zombies and skeletons were “starring” at me from the dark. I got really scared when my landlords ( big fans of Halloween ) surprised me with a big creepy monster in the backyard. Even at work some of my colleagues dressed up and were having a Halloween lunch, it was very funny to work and see all the different costumes around me.

My favorite holiday would probably be Thanksgiving which occurs on the third Thursday of November. This day is all about being thankful, gathering with family, friends and of course a good food. For Christmas I decided  to go back home to Europe because I couldn’t imagine spending this beautiful holiday without my family and at least some snow or cold weather. It was a little bit weird for me to see palm trees with Christmas decorations, Santa Clauses and people wearing shorts or flip-flops in December.

The biggest surprise for me was Easter. Since I’m coming from a very religious background in Europe I’m used to all these Easter traditions, decorations and chocolate candies. In the United States it’s totally different. I didn’t even realize that there was a holiday because there are no free days and I haven’t seen any decorations or Easter candies at the grocery store.

Matej Strbka

Intern at KFASanta Monica

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