Ethnic Observances

The United States is a nation of many religious and ethnic groups. Many of these have feast days, holy days or special customs related to their religion or to their nation of origin. People of the Jewish faith, for example, observe all of their traditional holy days, with employers showing consideration by allowing them to take days off so they can observe their traditions. The same is true for Moslems.

Some customs which hark back to traditions of other lands lend a great deal of color to American life. The celebration of Mardi Gras—the day before the Christian season of Lent begins in late winter—is a tradition in New Orleans, a major southern city located in the state of Louisiana. The celebration, marked by a huge parade and much feasting, grew out of old French traditions, since Louisiana was once part of France's New World empire.

In various places, other ethnic groups sponsor parades or other events of gTeat interest, adding pageantry and merriment to American life. Just a few examples:

St. Patrick's Day in the United States is a time of celebration for people of Irish descent

And their friends. One of the biggest celebrations takes place in New York City, where a parade is held on the Irish patron saint's feast, March 17.

Italian feasts in honor of patron saints are held in cities or neighborhoods where people from certain sections of Italy form a large part of the citizenry. Among these is a feast in honor of San Gennaro (St. Januarius), patron saint of Naples, and one in honor of St. Paulinus of Nola, both in New York City, In areas where Americans of Chinese descent live, and especially in the Chinatown sections of New York City and San Francisco, California, people sponsor traditional Chinese New Year's celebrations with feasts, parades and fireworks.

"Octoberfests" featuring German music, dancing and food are held wherever large

Groups of German-Americans live. In New York City, there seems to be a parade day for almost every ethnic group of any size found in that city, including Americans whose origin goes back to Germany, Poland, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Norway.


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