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National Holidays Around the World

Explore patriotic celebrations at home in America and as far away as Malaysia.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Explore Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in-depth with the Celebrate Winter Holidays online activity. 

Teachers: Looking for more ways to celebrate and teach patriotic holidays? Try this collection of teaching ideas and activities for U.S. patriotic holidays.

Almost every country in the world observes a national holiday in honor of an important patriotic event, such as the winning of the country's independence. In some countries a national holiday may commemorate the day of liberation, a revolution, or a new constitution or government. In others it may take place on the ruler's birthday.

 

Bastille Day
This French national holiday is celebrated on July 14. The French call it Fête Nationale, which means national celebration or quatorze juillet, which means 14 July. The holiday marks the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.

German Unity Day
October 3 marks the reunification of Germany in 1990. For nearly 30 years, East and West Germany were divided. This national holiday in Germany celebrates the two sides joining back together.

Hari Merdeka
This national day of Malaysia takes place on August 31. It marks Malaysia's independence from British colonial rule and the formation of Malaysia itself.

Independence Day
The Fourth of July is the holiday when Americans celebrate the birthday of the United States of America. It commemorates the day in 1776 when the American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain. By adopting the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress announced to the world that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states."

The first celebration of American independence took place on July 8, 1776, in Philadelphia. The ceremony began with a public reading of the Declaration outside the State House (now called Independence Hall). That evening, Philadelphians celebrated with bonfires, a parade, and the firing of cannons.

Labor Day
In 66 countries, the contributions of workers are honored on Labor Day. In New Zealand, Labor Day is marked on the fourth Monday of October and celebrates the campaign for the eight-hour workday. New Zealanders have an extra day of rest from work — and a three-day weekend for picnics and other activities.

Memorial Day
On the last Monday in May, we in the U.S. remember and honor men and women who have died in battle. Observance of this day dates back to the Civil War.

Veterans Day
Celebrated on November 11, this day honors U.S. soldiers in all wars. Canada honors its soldiers on the same date. The holiday in Canada is known as Remembrance Day.


Ready for more holidays around the world? Learn about religious commemorations, harvest festivals, and New Year celebrations.

  • Subjects:
    Culture and Diversity, Holidays
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