December 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, Hawaii. This devastating event killed more than two-thousand U.S. soldiers and sailors and wounded one-thousand more. The bombing destroyed eight battleships and numerous smaller vessels as well as 200 airplanes. The next day, the United States declared war on Japan, finally entering World War II. Learn more on our page of links
The Thanksgiving holiday originated with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony who celebrated the harvest of 1621 with a multi-day feast. Despite its early beginnings, Thanksgiving became a Federal holiday only in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving Day. In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be observed on the second to last Thursday of the month. That year November had five Thursdays. Since Thanksgiving signaled the start of the holiday shopping season, Roosevelt wanted to give the economy a boost by providing an extra week of shopping. Not everyone agreed with this decision and in 1941 Congress passed a bill designating Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
Veterans Day is observed annually on November 11th, the date on which the Armistice ending World War I was signed. In fact, this holiday was known as “Armistice Day.” The name was changed after World War II as the holiday’s focus was expanded to honor veterans of all conflicts. Veterans Day is typically marked by solemn ceremonies of remembrance and parades.
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Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, is celebrated in England as the anniversary of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605, the day that King James I was to open Parliament. Guy Fawkes was arrested in a cellar beneath the House of Lords with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder. Ultimately many other conspirators were chased, killed, arrested, imprisoned or executed.
The date is traditionally celebrated with bonfires, fireworks, and the burning of cloth effigies or “guys.”
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The Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated to honor amily members and friends who have died. The official holiday is November 2nd but the celebration typically begins on October 31st and coincides with the Catholic observances of All Souls Day and All Saints Day.
Learn more about this Mexican holiday on our page of links.
Native American Heritage Month is a time to honor the culture, traditions and history of America’s indigenous people.
Native American Heritage Month was first celebrated in 1990 by proclamation of President George H.W. Bush and was initially called “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Since 1994, each American President has issued a similar proclamation. Find resources, including booklists and lesson plans, on our page of links