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Patriotic Holidays: Where are the Best Celebrations?

It was 1976, the bicentennial of America’s independence day, and my dad took me to the celebration in my hometown. I can still recall the sound of the band playing God Bless America, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn, everything decked out in red, white, and blue, and the taste of old fashioned root beer. I remember being so excited when he bought me a souvenir flag. As I got older I marched in the Memorial parade with my girl scout troupe. Even now, we sit on our front patio every year to watch fireworks on patriotic holidays after grilling up some tasty bbq dishes.

updated 5/11/23

Why do we celebrate patriotic holidays?

Although people within our country have different religions, ethnic backgrounds, and beliefs, at the end of the day we are all Americans. In a scary world, celebrating patriotic holidays helps bring us closer together with a common bond. It unifies us, reminding us that we are not alone.

Patriotism is showing support for one’s country. So we celebrate patriotic holidays to honor those who fought for our freedom and to demonstrate our love for it. Here in America our main patriotic holiday is July 4th, Independence Day, followed closely by Memorial Day. However, there are many other such as President’s Day, Election Day, Martin Luther King Day, Flag Day, and Veterans Day.

In the U.S. we traditionally celebrate patriotic holidays with red, white, and blue drinks and a BBQ with tasty hamburgers and hotdogs with all the fixin’s. Then we top the night off with the grand finale of amazing fireworks.

Do other countries show the amount of patriotism that America does?

The answer is, yes! Keep reading to find out more about how Americans celebrate patriotic holidays as well as how other countries honor their patriotism around the world.

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Memorial Day – patriotic holidays in Washington, D.C. 

Vietnam war memorial wall of names

By Merry Allison (Virginia Vacation Guide)

Each year the United States commemorates Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. The holiday was first observed in 1868 as a day to honor the sacrifices of those who fought in the American Civil War. Since then, it has been a day of honor and remembrance for those who fought and sacrificed their lives for the security of their country. 

Parades honor members of the armed services. Speeches take place. And they hold moments of silence at prominent war memorials. 

The nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. is a special place to commemorate Memorial Day. There are always numerous events observing the occasion throughout the city, particularly at the many war memorials around the National Mall. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and National Parks Service host an annual remembrance event for fallen service members at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The event features speeches by prominent members of the armed services. 

There is also a national Memorial Day Parade that takes place on Constitution Avenue to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed in the armed forces. It is the nation’s largest Memorial Day tribute event. The parade includes appearances by many members of the armed forces, as well as special celebrity hosts and musical guests. 

4th of July, how we celebrate patriotic holidays in America

patriotic holidays fireworks for the fourth of july

Contributed by Veronica from Hip Grandma with a Camera

In the United States, we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July each year.  Independence Day is aptly named as it marks the day the original 13 colonies of America declared their independence from Great Britain.  The Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on the 2nd of July, 1776. However, we celebrate each year on the 4th of July.

Families often use this day to gather with friends and family and celebrate America.  Many companies even allow their employees a day off from work.  Both small and large cities and towns across America host festivals. Of course, these include parades, food trucks, and musical performances that everyone can enjoy.

Some families gather for family reunions on the 4th of July with a picnic in the park or a swim at the local beach.  You will often find families decked out in matching red, white, and blue clothing, the colors in the United States National Flag.

And at the end of a long day of summer sun and celebration, there are fireworks. This tradition dates back to the very first celebration of Independence Day.  In 1777, men fired cannons from warships in a 13-gun-salute in honor of our original 13 colonies.  In addition, they discharged 13 fireworks, thus beginning our American tradition.

On the 4th of July, you will see (and hear) fireworks everywhere, from small backyard displays to enormous firework celebrations.  Further, live orchestras or vocal artists performing patriotic music will often accompany the show.  You’ll see people snapping pictures galore to share on social media.  If you would like to learn more about taking gorgeous fireworks images, check out How to Photograph Fireworks Like a Pro with These 7 Easy Tips.

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4th of July patriotic holidays Lake Bluff, Illinois

patriotic holiday parade for 4th of july

Kirsten from

For the ultimate 4th of July celebration, head to Lake Bluff, Illinois. This charming town, about 45 minutes north of downtown Chicago, is the epitome of patriotism not only on the 4th, but on the days leading up to it as well.

Everything kicks off on July 3rd with the Fireman’s Ball. The event features dancing, music, food, and fun, and it’s the fundraiser for the town’s volunteer fire department.

Everyone is up bright and early on the 4th of July to kick off the main event, Lake Bluff’s 4th of July Parade, which will celebrate 111 years in 2022. 

Subsequently, at 9:50 a.m., children line up with their bikes, wagons, and even skates, for the Children’s Parade. Of course, most will decorate their gear with red, white, and blue. Then they will wave to the crowd as they stroll down the main street. Everyone is invited to join in, even those from out of town!

The parade kicks off in earnest at 10 a.m. Highlights include marching bands, bagpipers, dance and drill teams (the lawnmower team is known for their crazy antics), and local sports teams and businesses. While the groups march through the streets of Lake Bluff, they toss candy to the children on the sidelines who eagerly gather it up. The parade finishes with the town’s fire trucks and police cars sounding their sirens as they make their way through town.

The night finishes at Sunrise Beach, where everyone gathers for music and fireworks over Lake Michigan. If you’re looking for one of the most patriotic events to celebrate the 4th of July, Lake Bluff is the place to be.

Patriotic holidays in the Netherlands: All King’s Day

Netherlands patriotic holiday: All King's Day celebration
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Contributed by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts

One of the biggest and most popular patriotic holidays in The Netherlands is King’s Day. They celebrate King’s Day on the 27th of April. It’s the birthday of the Dutch king. Even though the Dutch are generally not very patriotic when it comes to their royal family, King’s Day is a different story.

Meanwhile, the whole country turns orange, literally. You will find orange decorations everywhere. Most people will dress up in orange outfits, wear orange Hawaiian flower necklaces, or paint the Dutch flag on their cheeks.

There are festive activities in each city, town, and village such as organized festivals and fairs, to self-improvised parties on the streets. The latter is (in my humble Dutch opinion) the best. 

The streets turn into flea markets. In fact, people spread out a blanket and sell everything they want to get rid of. It’s basically a national garage sale day, and a very good day to score good deals on any item you need.  

The best thing about King’s Day is that there is a great ambiance everywhere. 

For the generations who still go out to party, King’s Day actually starts the night before on King’s Night, the 26th of April. This is usually a night with great parties. Again, you can go to any bar and you will be sure to find something going on. Though, if you do decide to spend King’s Night and Day in Amsterdam (as many tourists do), you should check whether you need a ticket or not. 

Bastille Day: patriotic holidays in France

Contributed by Leyla from Off Beat France

On July 14th each year, France shuts down. It’s Bastille Day, the day the Bastille prison in Paris was stormed, sparking the French Revolution and overturning the monarchy. That was in 1789.

But the country celebrates another anniversary on this day, the less well-known Federation Day, in 1790. This was an attempt at reconciliation and unity. However, the effort to mend fences in the aftermath of the revolution failed.

But Bastille Day, or the National Holiday (Fête Nationale, in France) wasn’t created immediately. It took a century for French authorities to declare it.

Today in France, most people celebrate the national day in some way. 
The most typical are fireworks displays, which can be seen in the smallest of villages. In addition, town squares are garlanded and draped and filled with bandstands and bake-offs. The mayor makes a speech before the fun begins, the dancing and the eating.
Another institution is the military parade in Paris. The requisite jets fly overhead, with their flumes of red, white and blue. Meanwhile, riders smartly guide their horses down the Champs-Elysées. Even if you’re not French and you don’t like military pomp, you may be stirred as those horses amble by.

France loves a holiday. But this one is meaningful, because what happened that day changed the course of French history. Who knows what might have happened if the Bastille hadn’t been stormed… perhaps French citizens would still be curtsying to a monarch.

St. Piran’s Day: Patriotic holidays in England

England patriotic holiday of St. Piran celebrating with music

Author:  Sarah Carter, Cornwall’s Best

Cornwall is England’s most south-westerly county. Celebrations are held every March 5th to celebrate the patron saint of this glorious county. St Piran is the patron saint of tin miners as well as Cornwall. St Piran’s day was originally a “tinners holiday” in this area of the country that relied so much on tin mining from the 17th century until the late 19th century.  

Historic references recount a few specific traditions apart from the large consumption of food and alcohol in the week coming up to St Piran’s day, or “Perrantide”.  In Cornwall, they often use the phrase “as drunk as a Perraner”.  The flag of Cornwall – a white cross on a black background – is also known as St Piran’s Flag. It is flown widely in Cornwall (at all times of the year!).  

In Grass Valley, California, they also celebrate St. Piran’s Day, honoring the Cornish Miners who emigrated there over the years.  On St. Piran’s Day, it’s traditional to say Happy St. Piran’s Day, which in the Cornish language is “Gool Peran Lowen”. You’ll also hear  “onen hag oll” which is Cornish for “One and all.”

Across Cornwall, you’ll see parades, dancing, and music.  There are usually rugby matches and fairground rides.  At 9 pm across Cornwall, they sing the Cornish Anthem called the Trelawnby Shout.  There’s also an annual walk across Perran Sands on the closest Sunday to St. Piran’s Day.

Mexican Independence Day: Patriotic holidays in Mexico

Mexican Independence Day celebration

Melissa Douglas – Mexico Travel Secrets 

Mexican independence day is one of the most important Mexican traditions. It falls on the 16th September every year. Native Mexicans and the diaspora across the globe celebrate this holiday.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day

A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) is Mexican independence day. But that is not the case. In fact, although Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French at the battle of Puebla, not many Mexicans celebrate it. 

American beer companies have commercialized Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican culture. So, outside of the town of Puebla, the holiday is a bigger deal in the US than in Mexico! 

The real Mexican Independence Day

After a violent colonization, Spain ruled Mexico for over 300 years. The war for independence lasted for 11 years and it reached its crescendo on the 16th September 1810.

The tagline of the celebration is “Viva México! Viva la Independencia! Vivan los héroes!” While that may sound like littler more than a patriotic exclamation, there is some history behind this saying too. 

Father Hidalgo, a Parish Priest of Guanajuato state, yelled this battle cry in 1810 to encourage people to revolt against the Spaniards. Now, every independence day, the President of Mexico shouts it from his balcony. The TV and radio stations broadcast this throughout the country. 

Mexicans call this infamous speech “El Grito”. They hold parades across the country, featuring musicians, dancers, and other performers. 

Charros (cowboys on horseback) often ride along with the procession. Sometimes, military personnel join in too. Mexico City and Guadalajara in particular host the most spectacular parades. 

During most Mexican holidays locals eat traditional foods, and Independence Day is no different. It is customary to eat chiles en nogada on this day. They make this from poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo, pomegranate seeds, parsley, and a walnut cream sauce. 

Thanks for joining me on this journey celebrating patriotic hoidays. I hope these stories gave you inspirations for your own celebrations.

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Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

3 thoughts on “Patriotic Holidays: Where are the Best Celebrations?”

  1. The 4 of July holiday celebrations are fantastic in the USA, I was in NYC one year. Bastille Day is so fun as is King’s Day, I’ve been to both! the Mexican one interests me the most.

  2. We have celebrated Canada Day in many places across Canada. And took that practice with us when we visited several different places in the U.S. for July 4th. Not surprisingly we found many of the July 4th celebrations huge. We will have to plan to extend this practice to similar holidays around the world.

  3. At least in Continental Europe, those patriotic celebrations are really not a thing. Until the soccer championship in 2006, it was a big NO to hiss the German flag – in Germany that is. To us, these patriotic celebrations deem extremely US American.

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