16 American Traditions That Seem Odd Outside the USA

America has many holidays that the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate. This can become extremely confusing, especially when watching movies and not having a clue what’s going on! Here’s a compiled list of American traditions to help the rest of the world. 

Groundhog Day

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Groundhog Day occurs on 2nd February and is a day that only takes place in America. It’s when a groundhog predicts the weather and if it sees its shadow, then it means there are still six more weeks of winter. The tradition came from German immigrants, who brought their own ways of life with them. 

Presidents’ Day

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President’s Day is a federal holiday that occurs on the third Monday of every February. It’s a day to honor all American presidents and takes place on George Washington’s birthday. There are parades to celebrate this day, with Americans even dressing up as presidents. 


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Halloween may be celebrated across the world; however, it seems Americans take it one step further. Everyone, whether young or old, dresses up in costumes and decorates their houses in cobwebs and fake blood galore. While in other countries, it’s usually just the kids that enjoy Halloween but in America, everyone loves to take part.

4th of July

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This date is Independence Day in America and marks the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The holiday is loved by all Americans and as E F Academy writes, “The day is arguably America’s favorite holiday!” There’s no doubt the holiday is about freedom as is celebrated with fireworks and parades.  

Prom Night

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This special night for high schoolers originated from America and has since spread worldwide. But still, no one does prom night quite like the US. It’s a high school tradition where Americans dress up in formal attire, rent limos and head back to school. It marks the end of their high school career and is seen as more of a rite of passage. 

State Fairs

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This tradition dates back to the 19th century, when each state held its own fair. According to blt, Kentucky has the best state fair thanks to “The incredible horse shows, Gourmet Garden chef demonstrations and live music…” Fairs usually consist of agricultural exhibits, carnival rides and lots of food. 

Ugly Sweater Parties

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This is one that the rest of the world decided not to copy into their own cultures! During the holiday season, Americans will head to parties in the ugliest Christmas sweater that they can lay their hands on. There are even competitions to win prizes for those with the ugliest sweater. 

Mardi Gras

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The annual Mardi Gras is held in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s also known as Fat Tuesday and is celebrated with colorful parades and costumes just before Lent. It’s a French Catholic tradition but has since become known as being an American holiday. 

Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in America, but what makes it even more individual is its parade in New York. This started in 1924 and features giant floats, parades and even celebrity performances. It’s an event that’s seen to mark the start of the holidays and is viewed on television across the country. 

County Fairs

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County fairs are smaller than state fairs and are usually used to promote local businesses. Tree Hugger backs this up by saying, “Many of these fairs have their roots in agriculture. They were launched to find a meeting place for farmers and/or to promote local crops to the general public.” Expect livestock shows, stalls and carnival rides for an exciting evening. 


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Homecoming is another high school tradition. It started in the early 1900s and is a way to mark students returning to school after summer. There are usually football games, parades, dances and the crowning of the homecoming king and queen. It’s supposed to show school spirit and gives the chance for everyone to be involved. 


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This is a tradition aimed at all the cowboys and cowgirls in America. It involves dangerous sports such as bull riding but also focuses on horsemanship. It represents American cowboy culture that’s rooted in the Western US. The rodeo also attracts thousands of tourists each year. 

The Rose Parade

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This tradition takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. It celebrates everything to do with flowers with floats covered in petals, parades and bands. After the parade, there’s a Rose Bowl football game which is a major event across the country. 

National Cherry Blossom Festival

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This festival celebrates the Japanese gifting the US cherry blossom trees in 1912. National Cherry Blossom Festival supports this by saying the Japanese gifted 3000 cherry blossom trees. The festival is supposed to celebrate the friendship between both countries. Expect parades, music and plenty of festivities. 

Hot Air Balloon Festivals

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This mainly refers to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Dozens of hot air balloons fill the sky to create a scattering of color. It offers incredible views of balloons against natural backdrops. The fiesta is supposed to celebrate the art of hot air ballooning.  

Cowboy Poetry Gatherings

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This is certainly a more unique American tradition. It brings together poets, singers and storytellers who all want to celebrate cowboy culture. These gatherings usually take place in more Western communities. The tradition is centered around folk music, poetry and plenty of food.

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