Published on July 2nd 2013 by Leon Shepherd

This list features my “Top 10 Favorite Holidays” celebrated by African Americans. The list also includes days that are not federal holidays, but special days that are very popular within the African American community. Kwanzaa did not make the list because its a seven day celebration, instead of a one day celebration. And lastly, the list is not in order of importance or significance, but in order of popularity. So, without further ado, let the debate begin.


10. Juneteenth

Juneteenth, also known as as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. Even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863, Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 18, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the emancipation of its slaves. The following day, June 19th, is when the contents of the Emancipation were read to the slaves, letting them know that they were free. That day has since become known as Juneteenth. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a combination of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 42 of the United States.


9. Halloween

Halloween is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31. Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Overtime, in the United States the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses. Trick or treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to “threat” to perform mischief on the property of the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.


8. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is observed on February 14 each year. It’s a day where many people give flowers, cards, letters, or presents to their spouse or partner. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.


7. Easter

Easter a holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Chrisitans a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.


6. Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in May.


5. New Year’s Day

New Year Day is observed on January 1st, the first day of the year. January 1st represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year. The celebrations held world-wide on January 1 as part New Years Day include: parades, concerts, entertainment, concerts, college football bowl games, family time, traditional meals, and church services.


4. Fourth of July

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies.


3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combing it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.


2.  Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year. It’s a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Thanksgiving Day parades are held in numerous cities and towns around the U.S. Some people have four day weekends, making Thanksgiving a popular time to visit family and friends.


1. Christmas

Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25th by millions of people around the world. Christmas is a compound word originating from the term “Christ Mass.” The popular celebratory customs of the holiday include gift giving, Santa Claus, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, nativity scenes, wreaths, mistletoe, holly and decorated Christmas trees, and homes.

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