Book Navigation


By on May 15th, 2017

Major U.S. Holiday International Students Should Know About

International students spending time in America should know about the major holidays they’ll experience. While some of the below examples may also be celebrated in your country, it’s still worth noting any differences.


For the entire month of October, you should expect that your campus and the city around it will start looking a bit spooky. You’ll see pumpkins carved with menacing faces, skeletons, and all kinds of depictions of ghosts, witches, and monsters.

That’s because Halloween takes place at the end of October on the 31st. There are all kinds of different stories about why this strange holiday got started, but, in modern times, it’s all about having fun.

You should plan to dress up for the day. Just about any type of costume will suffice. Most students try to be funny with theirs. Children this time of year usually dress up as something scary or a character they really like from TV or movies.

They also go trick-or-treating, which means they collect candy from neighbors. As a student, you’ll probably be attending a party.


The following month, in November, the fourth Thursday is reserved for Thanksgiving. This one is incredibly simple. Everyone sits around a table and says what they’re thankful for. After that, a giant feast is enjoyed.

These feasts sometimes begin in the morning but last all day. Many families watch football as a tradition, but it’s different in every household.


Although Christmas is a day meant to celebrate the birth of the Christian god Jesus, many secular and non-Christians still celebrate it. Schools are never in session during this holiday, either. It’s celebrated on December 25th, so colleges are out for winter break, which generally starts at the beginning of the month. High schools tend to let out a week before for the same reason.

Christmas is a time when you buy your loved ones gifts. If you work in America, you might be invited to participate in “Secret Santa”, which is where a group of workers draw names out of a hat and then gives that person a gift for Christmas.

Families celebrating the holiday will put their gifts under a Christmas tree leading up the big day. This is usually spruce or fir tree, but artificial versions are used, too. Children believe that a jolly elf named Santa Claus comes down the chimney the night before to put small toys in stockings hung by the chimney.

If you’ve celebrated Christmas in other countries before, you may have experienced similar customs, but the American version tends to be slightly different.

New Year’s Eve

Just about everyone all over the world celebrates New Year’s Eve the night before January 1st. In America, this involves a large party. Many people set “New Year’s resolutions”, which means they set themselves goals for the upcoming year, but that’s by no means mandatory (most people don’t keep theirs, anyway).

Approaching midnight, you’ll begin counting down from 10 until it’s finally the New Year. Couples share a kiss at this point.

Valentine’s Day

Speaking of couples, Americans celebrate a holiday just for them on February 14th. If you’re dating someone during this time, plan to take them out to dinner and maybe even get them a small gift or do some other romantic activity.

Saint Patrick’s Day

Americans celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th. At face value, it’s a holiday for Irish Americans and a time for them to celebrate their heritage. However, the holiday isn’t even a big deal in Ireland. People of all ethnic backgrounds celebrate it in America and it’s seen by most as just a good excuse to party.

While there may be other holidays celebrated where you’ll be attending school, above are the most prominent ones you can look forward to no matter where in America you are.