In 2021, US holidays give us a chance to celebrate with friends and family, unwind from work and school, observe religious ceremonies and traditions, and memorialize historical events. Of the many holidays celebrated in the US, some receive more attention than others, and a few encompass entire seasons of the year for many Americans.

Most Popular US Holidays

Here are several of the most popular US holidays and the customs and traditions that make them so unique to Americans:

DateDayHoliday
January 1, 2021FridayNew Years Day
January 18, 2021MondayMartin Luther King Jr. Day
February 14, 2021SundayValentines Day
February 15, 2021MondayPresidents' Day
March 17, 2021WednesdaySt. Patricks Day
April 4, 2021SundayEaster Sunday
April 5, 2021MondayEaster Monday
April 15, 2021ThursdayTax Day
May 5, 2021WednesdayCinco de Mayo
May 9, 2021SundayMothers Day
May 31, 2021MondayMemorial Day
June 20, 2021SundayFathers Day
July 4, 2021SundayIndependence Day
September 6, 2021MondayLabor Day
October 11, 2021MondayColumbus Day
October 31, 2021SundayHalloween
November 11, 2021ThursdayVeterans Day
November 25, 2021ThursdayThanksgiving Day
November 26, 2021FridayBlack Friday
December 24, 2021FridayChristmas Eve
December 25, 2021SaturdayChristmas Day
December 31, 2021FridayNew Years Eve
January 1, 2022SaturdayNew Years Day (2021)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This 2021 US holiday, known as “MLK Day,” is one of only a few holidays named for an individual and the first named for a private citizen, and honors Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil rights icon and hero. Martin Luther King Jr., most famous for his inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech, which outlined his vision for a truly equal America, was gunned down at just 39 years old in 1968 by an assassin. Today he is remembered on the third Monday of January as a man who stood up and made a difference in a time when not everyone in the “land of the free” was truly free and equal. The first MLK Day was celebrated in 1986, but because of resistance and pervasive regressive attitudes, it has only been celebrated in all 50 states since 2000.

Presidents’ Day

Although Presidents’ Day, which is observed on the third Monday of February, was started in 1885 to honor America’s first President, George Washington, the modern version of this holiday exists primarily to give workers an extra three-day weekend. It was officially established by 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act and is a day to celebrate all of America’s Presidents.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a more solemn holiday than most of the others on this list, as it is observed to remember Americans who died while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day started as Decoration Day to honor the Union and Confederate dead of the Civil War. Although there aren’t any specific ways of observing Memorial Day, many cities hold parades and other public events, and many businesses are closed to give employees a relaxing three-day weekend. Memorial Day is observed on the final Monday in May and is traditionally viewed as the first day of summer.

 
 

What is the most popular holiday in the USA?

This is an extremely common question among many, and to be honest it is fairly subjective. However, from data gathered regarding the most commonly celebrated U.S. holiday amongst many communities, and also the economic impact it has on the nation, Christmas is the most popular holiday in the USA, celebrated by an estimated 93% of the United States population each year. If you wish to know more information about this historic holiday, scroll to the bottom of the page!

 
 

Popular US Holidays 2021

Independence Day

In the US, Independence Day, or “4th of July,” is a patriotic holiday observed with fireworks, barbecue, and often raucous festivities. The holiday marks what was essentially the birth of America: the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, marking the United States’ separation from England in 1776. 

On Independence Day, Americans celebrate with friends and family and enjoy picnics, pool parties, and other summertime activities before getting together for fireworks displays in the evening. Fireworks shows are held by local parks, neighborhoods, and even in the football fields of high schools and colleges, to be enjoyed by the entire community and celebrate American liberty in the “land of the free.”

Labor Day

While Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, Labor Day traditionally marks the end. Many Americans get the first Monday of September off work and often choose to spend the day by the pool or at the beach or lake before the weather starts to cool off. Despite being one of the more low-key 2021 US holidays, what it stands for makes it one of the most important.

Labor Day honors the achievements of American workers and their struggle to gain fair treatment in the workplace. Prior to the labor movement in the 19th century, many Americans, including children, worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week with minimal breaks, poor sanitary conditions, and barely enough pay to survive. When workers finally had enough, they organized unions and held strikes to protest their unfair treatment, some of which ended in violence, like the Haymarket Riot of 1886. Although no one knows for sure who started Labor Day, the “workingmen’s holiday” was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1884 and has been celebrated ever since.

Halloween

Although many countries celebrate Halloween, none go quite as all-out for this spooky holiday as the United States. Halloween is rooted in the ancient Celtic festival, called Samhain, where people would don costumes and light bonfires to scare off ghosts and evil spirits, but today the celebrations are based on fun, not fear, and that is why Haloween has become one of the most popular US holidays. 

Children roam the streets on October 31 in their best costumes on Halloween night, ringing doorbells and asking for candy with the traditional question, “trick or treat?” Adults have plenty of fun on Halloween too. Friends get together for parties, costume contests, and other festivities, usually accompanied by a drink or three.

Recently, Halloween has become almost as ubiquitous as Christmas, with families decorating their lawns and homes with skeletons, spiders, witches, and, of course, carved pumpkins called “Jack-O-lanterns.” Stores stock up on candy, pumpkins, and all sorts of macabre and creepy décor, and T.V. stations air scary films all month long. In the United States, dedication to Halloween is truly a cultural phenomenon that can’t be missed.

Veteran’s Day

Like Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, known in the UK as Armistice Day, is observed to show respect for fallen troops, but it also honors living veterans. It originated on November 11, 1919, to commemorate the first anniversary of the end of WWI, and it continues to be celebrated on 11/11 to remember “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 that marked the end of the Great War. Veteran’s Day is celebrated across the United States with parades, military flyovers, ceremonies, and services. Many workers, mainly government workers and bank employees, are given a three-day weekend for the holiday.

Thanksgiving

What began in 1621 as a celebration as a successful harvest between the British Pilgrims, religious separatists hoping to worship in their own way in the New World, and the Wampanoag tribe, who helped them survive the harsh New England winter, is now a day for food, family, and football for most Americans.

Thanksgiving was named a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and today it’s a chance for families to gather together, enjoy a hearty meal, and reflect on everything they have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving has become one of the most popular US holidays and is celebrated on the last Thursday of November, and many businesses are closed to allow employees to spend time with their families. Some even remain closed through the weekend, giving workers a well-deserved long weekend to nosh on leftovers and relax with friends and relatives.

Christmas

No list of most popular US holidays is complete without Christmas, mostly because it is the most popular holiday in the USA! Although Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th, it’s not uncommon for preparation for the holiday to begin immediately after Halloween. Although Christmas was started to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it has evolved beyond its religious beginnings and is celebrated by many non-Christian Americans as a day to exchange gifts, spend time with family, eat good food, and enjoy yuletide traditions. For Americans, Christmas means elaborate decorations, hanging ornaments on their Christmas tree, stockings over the fireplace, and Christmas songs, movies, parties, markets, and more. Christmas is even more special for children, who write lists to Santa Claus and eagerly await a pile of gifts under their tree on Christmas morning.

Commercially, Christmas is a huge economic driver for US businesses. The average US retailer does 20-30% of its business for the year during the holidays, making it the most important season for most US companies. The shopping season kicks off on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving and the nation’s most notorious sale day, and often does not slow down until well into the new year.

The majority of American businesses give their employees Christmas Day off to celebrate with family, and many others take Christmas Eve off as well, but it might come as a shock to many from outside the US that Boxing Day, isn’t considered a holiday and most Americans have to go right back to work after the festivities. Most schools, on the other hand, do close for the holiday period, giving children at least a week off between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

Whether celebrated as a religious holiday, or just as a time to get together, exchange gifts, and relax, Christmas is the most important and most anticipated out of all 2021 US holidays.