November is a time for reflection and remembrance, with some holiday shopping thrown into the mix. The two biggest holidays during this month are Veterans Day, on November 11, and Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of the month. Find out more about these holidays and other big events that happen every November in the United States below.
Day of the Dead Celebrations
Imported from Mexico, the Day of the Dead holiday is celebrated across the American Southwest and California.
It combines the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) in order to honor friends and family who have passed away. These holidays focus on the theme of remembrance and having respect for those who have come before. Of course, the otherworldly nature of the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) makes it the perfect follow-up to Halloween.
Unlike in other countries, Election Day is not a public holiday in the United States. Election day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month. Government offices, banks, and almost all businesses will be open. However, many schools are closed on Election Day so that local elementary, middle, and high schools can serve as polling places for elections. While Election Day is an annual event, major elections, such as those for congressional offices or the presidency, almost always fall during even-numbered years.
If you're a foreigner visiting the United States on Election Day, you will certainly get a chance to watch democracy in action, as all media will be fervently covering the polls.
It's known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in Europe, because the date is recognized as the end of World War I when Allied Forces signed an Armistice Agreement with Germany, November 11 is the day that Americans commemorate their war veterans.
Veterans Day is a public holiday, meaning that schools, banks, and government offices are closed. It is marked with celebrations and remembrances in communities across the USA, particularly in the nation's capital, Washington, DC, which has services at all of its war memorials, and in New York City, which presents an annual Veterans Day Parade. This holiday, like the Day of the Dead Celebrations, focuses on remembrance and honor. However, Veterans Day focuses on living veterans and Memorial Day focuses on veterans that are no longer with us.
Thanksgiving is America's most traditional and secular holiday, when families get together over a long meal to give thanks for their blessings. Thanksgiving originated in 1623 when the pilgrims, those European settlers who had landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, gave thanks for a bountiful harvest. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November.
In more recent years, several other events have become synonymous with Thanksgiving. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is a huge event and sees dozens of floats, balloons, and marching bands fill the streets of the Big Apple. Another entertainment associated with Thanksgiving is football.
On Thanksgiving afternoon in 2017, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, teams from the National Football League, each play football games. Thanksgiving is the biggest American holiday or event that occurs in November and it begins the season that many Americans refer to as "the holidays". During the holidays both secular and religious holidays occur and most Americans spend the time with their families.
Black Friday is a recent phenomenon and happens the day after Thanksgiving when many people have off of work and school. It marks the first day of the shopping season prior to the Christmas holidays and is when many stores open their doors early with bargain basement discounts. While Black Friday is a good day for landing a fair price for electronics, toys, clothing, and a host of other items, the day can be chaotic, especially for the uninitiated