Resources for International Students & Exchange Visitors

 

ExpandLSU Resources

ExpandCampus Federal Credit Union

Campus Federal Credit Union (CFCU) is a financial organization located on campus, including the first floor of the LSU Student Union. CFCU has numerous services including checking and savings accounts, online banking and more: campusfederal.org

ExpandCampus Safety

The LSU Police Department has a 24-hour presence on campus to provide for the safety of students, scholars, employees and visitors to LSU. For information about campus safety and services offered by LSU Police, visit: LSU Police

ExpandCenter for Academic Success

The Center for Academic Success (CAS) offers academic support, learning strategies and other resources so that students can excel in the classroom. For information about CAS workshops or tutoring hours, visit: CAS

ExpandOffice of the Dean of Students

The Office of the Dean of Students works to create a support network for students and includes various units who strive to meet student needs: Dean of Students

ExpandDisability Services

The Disability Services provides services for students with disabilities (physical, medical or learning) in an effort to ensure their full participation in all activities, programs, and services to the University. Visit the Disability Services website for more information about their services.

ExpandEmployment information for students

  • On-campus employment: Click here for information on all your on-campus employment needs including eligibility and obtaining authorization to work on campus.
  • LSU Olinde Career Center assists students and alumni in choosing careers, obtaining career-related work experiences as students, developing job search skills, and securing employment or admission to graduate or professional school: LSU Olinde Career Center
  • LSU Payroll

ExpandEnglish Language Orientation Program

The English Language Orientation Program (ELOP) The English Language Orientation Program (ELOP) faculty teaches intensive English as a second language to individuals who are interested in learning English for academic, professional or personal reasons. For more information about ELOP, visit: ELOP

ExpandGlossary of Academic Terminology

ExpandInternational Cultural Center

The International Cultural Center (ICC) is a place on campus where all nationalities can come together and learn from each other. The ICC’s mission is to promote international friendship and facilitate greater interaction and understanding between the international community at LSU and the Baton Rouge Community through educational, cultural, and social activities.

Among many things, the ICC organizes arrival services for new international students, provides temporary housing, hosts many social events, organizes trips, connects international students with each other and with the community and vice versa. The ICC also provides help to students who are faced with problems, issues or simply questions about their life at LSU, in Louisiana or the United States.

Temporary housing is available for a small fee at the ICC and is reserved primarily for international students who need accommodation for a few days or weeks until they find their own place to live. However, Exchange Visitors coming to LSU as visiting scholars may also apply for temporary housing at the ICC if accommodation is needed for a week or two while the scholar is looking for a more permanent place to stay. Please be aware that accommodation is limited as the ICC can house only about 10 individuals at any given time. The ICC also offers a roommate search for international students.

For more information about the ICC, visit the ICC website

ExpandInternational Hospitality Foundation (for students)

The International Hospitality Foundation (IHF) strives to link the Baton Rouge community to LSU’s international students with friendship and intercultural exchange. The IHF organizes welcome parties for new students and orientation/shopping trips each major semester (fall and spring) and also arranges for international students to speak to local gatherings and share their culture. The IHF also offers the following:

  • Friendship Host program, where the IHF matches international students with local “Friendship Families.” Once assigned, students will get together with a Host(s) approximately once a month for various activities. You will have the opportunity to learn about American culture and share your own. If you are interested in learning about and participating in the program, you should fill out the application form on the IHF website. You may apply to participate in this program at any time while you are a student at LSU.
  • The Loan Closet allows students to borrow (or buy at a minimal cost) various household items to use during their stay at LSU. The Loan Closet is open from 1-4 p.m. every Thursday during the fall and spring semesters (mid-August to mid-May), except for holidays. There is a one-time registration fee of $2.00 USD.

For more information about the IHF or any of its programs and activities, visit the IHF website or e-mail ihf@lsu.edu

ExpandInternational Services

The International Services (IS) provides immigration services to international students, exchange visitors, and international employees. IS also sponsors and hosts cultural activities for exchange visitors. We encourage you to view the rest of our website for more information about your non-immigrant status. You can call (225) 578-3191 to schedule an appointment to meet with an IS staff member in our offices in 101 Hatcher Hall.

ExpandLSU e-mail help (for students)

ExpandLSU Libraries

With extensive collections in both electronic and physical formats, you have access to the highest quality materials for free at the LSU Libraries.

Middleton Library is the main library at LSU and is located on campus. It has close to 3 million books, collaborative workspaces, and a coffee shop. Faculty, staff and students of LSU may borrow library books and materials from the library upon presentation of an LSU identification card. However, faculty and staff on gratis appointments (not paid by LSU) have somewhat limited privileges to the main library. The main library is open to the general public to use, but individuals not affiliated with LSU may not borrow materials unless they have been granted special borrowing materials.

The Hill Memorial Library, located near Middleton Library, contains special collections such as materials about the history and culture of Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley; primary sources; University archives; and rare materials. Unlike the Middleton Library, Hill Memorial is a non-circulating library. Researchers read books and materials in the library’s beautiful reading rooms. Hill Memorial Library is open to students, faculty, and staff and the general public. A photo ID is required.

  • Introduction to Library Research: This guide highlights the best tools for getting your research done faster, easier, and better.
  • Ask Us! Do you have questions or need more help? Librarians are here to help you. Ask us via text, email, phone, or chat.

ExpandParking & Transportation Services

LSU’s Parking & Transportation Services’ mission is to provide the LSU community with safe and well-maintained parking as well as efficient, convenient and reliable mass transportation and alternative modes of transportation. Visit their website for more information about parking permits, maps and other services: LSU Parking & Transportation

  • Tiger Trails Bus Service is free to students, faculty, staff and visitors:
  • Holiday Shuttle
  • Campus Transit allows for safe travel around campus after-hours:
  • Campus Parking Permits
  • Bicycle Information: If you plan to use a bicycle as a means of transportation, you will not need an on-campus parking tag. However, a Baton Rouge city ordinance requires that all bicycles be registered.
    • Bicycle Registration: All bicycles must be registered with Baton Rouge City Police. The LSU Police Department has partnered with Baton Rouge City Police to provide on-campus registrations at the LSU Public Safety Building. There is a small fee to register your bicycle. For more information, visit: Bicycle Registration
    • Bike Sale & Auction

ExpandSafe Space

As part of the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, the LGBTQ Project and Safe Space Campaign are working to make LSU a safe space for all students regardless of sexuality, gender identity and gender expression: Safe Space

ExpandStudent Health Center & Medical Health Insurance

The LSU Student Health Center offers health and medical services to LSU students and exchange visitors. Visit the LSU Student Health Center website to learn about the Health Center’s services, wellness programs or to schedule an appointment.

  • Immunization Requirements:
  • My Student Body: All first-semester students (ages 21 and younger) are required to complete the My Student Body Essentials course. The Student Health Center recommends taking the course as soon as possible during your first semester at LSU. If you do not take the Essentials course, the Student Health Center will place a hold on your LSU course registration for next semester. For more information, visit: My Student Body

All international students in F-1 and J-1 student visa status are required to have medical health insurance while they are enrolled at LSU, and the medical health-insurance policy must meet LSU’s medical health-insurance requirements. Also, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has its own requirements for J-1 status holders. For more information, visit: Insurance Information

ExpandUniversity Recreation

The University Recreation Center (UREC) has everything you need for recreation and exercise, including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, machines for cardio and strength training, a climbing gym, courts and fields for group sport, and exercise classes. Go to UREC's website to find more on these offerings as well as to get information about membership and class schedules.

ExpandFun Things to Do at LSU

  • Walk or run around the LSU Lakes
  • Wake up early to get fresh biscuits at Louie’s
  • Visit Mike the Tiger
  • Attend Fall Fest on the Parade Ground
  • Tailgate before a home football game – especially LSU vs. Alabama!
  • Work out at UREC
  • Eat a picnic lunch on the parade ground, in the “enchanted forest,” or in the Greek Amphitheatre
  • Get an ice cream at LSU Dairy Store
  • Visit the LSU Bookstore
  • Attend a guest lecture outside your area of study
  • Attend a musical or theatre event on campus
  • Check out the opinions at Free Speech Alley in front of the Student Union
  • Keep up with LSU news in The Daily Reveille

  • See what LSU students have to say about the “hidden gems” on campus.

ExpandLiving in Baton Rouge

ExpandHousing

The International Cultural Center (ICC) on campus offers limited temporary housing to international students and exchange visitors for a small fee. The ICC can accommodate up to 10 persons at any given time while a student or exchange visitor looks for an apartment or other permanent housing. The ICC also offers a roommate search for international students. Flyers around campus and The Daily Reveille campus newspaper are other places to find a room or apartment close to campus.

International students who prefer to live on the LSU campus in a residence hall, residential college, or campus apartment must be admitted to LSU before they can apply for on-campus housing. To apply for on-campus housing or to find information about room rates, visit the LSU Department of Residential Life website.

International students who prefer to live off-campus and exchange visitors can find general information on LSU’s Off-Campus Housing Service. Some other useful websites for finding off-campus housing can include:

There are many additional sites that you can use when searching for off-campus housing, but you will need to research those on your own*. Many of those sites may request that you enter a city, state and zip (postal code) in order to find available housing in the Baton Rouge area. The zip code for LSU is 70803. You may want to locate an apartment near campus and along the LSU Tiger Trails bus route or Baton Rouge’s Capital Area Transit System (CATS) if you do not plan on purchasing a car.

     * DISCLAIMER: Any off-campus housing contracts that you enter into are your responsibility. International Services and LSU are not responsible for or involved in any decisions that you make regarding your relationship with any off-campus housing facilities. International Services and LSU also are not responsible for the terms and agreements that you make with these facilities.

When living off campus, there are a number of utility companies in Baton Rouge that you may need to contact to set up services: Baton Rouge Water Company: (225) 925-2011 Entergy: (225) 354-3101 Cox Communications: (225) 228-1231

ExpandSchools for Children

LSU is located in East Baton Rouge Parish, and schools in the EBR Parish elementary and high school system are typically open from mid-August to the end of May.

Most working parents send their children to camps during the summer time. Most camps are all-day camps, but some are half-day. Summer camps are a fun way for children to learn based on their interests – nature, academic, sports, etc.

ExpandTransportation

  • Public transportation:
  • Most people in Baton Rouge drive their own cars. Public transportation is limited but is available:

    • LSU Tiger Trails is a transit system that provides free bus service for all LSU faculty, staff, and students. The routes go to and from on-campus locations, many nearby residential and commercial areas, and even downtown Baton Rouge. Some routes operate at night as well. Click here for information and routes.
    • LSU Campus Transit offers a free shuttle service on campus every night from 5:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Simply call (225) 578-5555, and a shuttle will come right to you. For more details on this service, click here.
    • The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) is the regional public transportation service, with fixed bus routes across the entire metropolitan Baton Rouge area. Many CATS routes connect with LSU Tiger Trails routes such that you can travel throughout the city from your nearest LSU bus stop.
    • The Capitol Park Trolley Service provides free transportation around the heart of downtown Baton Rouge from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


  • Taking a taxi:
  • Yellow Cab of Baton Rouge is one of the main taxi services in the area. You can also search online for other taxi services. The standard tip for the driver is 15% of the fare.

  • Bicycling:
  • Most roads in Baton Rouge do not have bike lanes or a bike path. It is likely that if you decide to use your bicycle for transportation, you will be riding on the road along with vehicular traffic. As part of a Baton Rouge city-parish ordinance, all bicycles must be registered with Baton Rouge City Police. The LSU Police Department has partnered with Baton Rouge City Police to provide on-campus registrations at the LSU Public Safety Building. There is a small fee to register your bicycle. For more information, visit Bicycle Registration.

    • Bike Baton Rouge, a local organization that works to make Baton Rouge more bike-friendly, has a list of safety tips and laws on its website as well as information, support, events, and maps of easy bicycle trips with which you can explore the city.
    • Many people ride their bikes along the Mississippi River Levee, a 4.5 mile-long (7.24 km) path that has lighting, rest areas, water fountains, parking, and scenic views, making a great place for family recreation. In addition, it extends all the way to the Riverfront Promenade in Downtown Baton Rouge, so it provides a great link between LSU campus and that part of the city.
  • Obtaining a Driver’s License and Driving a Car

ExpandLocal Destinations

Baton Rouge and the surrounding area offers a variety of activities whether you’re interested in the outdoors or the arts, cuisine or music. There are a number of useful websites that you can visit to learn more about your new home away from home:

ExpandLSU Athletics

LSU fields teams in 21 sports! Check out LSU Athletics online for schedules.

ExpandExploring the Outdoors

ExpandMarkets, Health Food Stores, and Festivals

Markets
Red Stick Farmer's Market
    Outdoor Market
    Every Saturday, 8am-12pm
    5th Street & Main Street (downtown Baton Rouge)

Baton Rouge Arts Market
    Outdoor Market
    1st Saturday of most months, 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
    5th Street & Main Street (downtown Baton Rouge)

Southside Produce (Farmer’s) Market
    Open 7 days a week, 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m
    8240 Perkins Road

Health Food Stores
The Fresh Market
    10555 Perkins Road

Whole Foods
    7529 Corporate Blvd

Trader Joe’s
    3535 Perkins Road

Ethnic Food Stores
A-Z International
    13461 Tiger Bend Road
    Indian, African, and Middle Eastern food

Asian Market
    8342 Perkins Road

Festivals Live After Five
    Outdoor Concerts
    Fridays in autumn, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
    North Boulevard Town Square (downtown Baton Rouge)

ExpandMuseums and Galleries

ExpandThe Performing Arts

ExpandPopular Spots for Food & Drink

ExpandLouisiana Weather

Louisiana is known not only for its high amount of rainfall throughout the year but also for its extremely variable weather. Afternoon temperatures can be upwards of 20°F (7°C) higher than morning temperatures! It is advisable to wear layers so that you can easily adjust to unexpected weather.

Louisiana springs and autumns are breezy and mild, but they are short – usually occurring around March/April and October/November, respectively – so they are a prized time of the year here!

Louisiana summers are hot and extremely humid, with temperatures often topping 90°F (32°C) and sometimes even 100°F (37°C), and you can expect hot weather to last from around April to October. It is important to avoid overheating and dehydration. It is also advisable to carry an umbrella during the summer as unexpected afternoon thunderstorm can suddenly appear. Check out this blog for tips on "Beating the Heat” on campus.

Louisiana winters are quite mild. They are also very short, with average daily high temperatures below 70°F (21°C) usually lasting only from around November to February. However, daily low temperatures can still get cold – sometimes below freezing – so it is still important to have some cold-weather clothing. And as with the rest of the year, rain is common – we have even been known to get an inch or two of snow every few years!

ExpandHurricanes

Tropical storms and hurricanes (their stronger counterparts with faster wind speeds) develop over tropical waters and sometimes travel across the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall on the Gulf Coast. It is extremely important to be educated about tropical storms and hurricanes and to be prepared in the event that such weather impacts our area.

Hurricane “season” lasts from June 1 to November 30 each year; this is the time of year during which these kinds of storms are most likely, NOT the only time of year during which they can occur. Most Louisianans keep disaster supplies on hand in their home throughout the year; water, non-perishable food, batteries, candles, and such supplies are useful not only in the event of a hurricane but also for the occasional normal thunderstorm that may cause power outages.

Keep an ear and an eye out for storm warnings on local television and radio channels, as well as weather websites on the internet. A tropical storm/hurricane “watch” means that tropical storm/hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area for the specified period of time, whereas a “warning” means these conditions are expected to occur.

You should visit these sites for information on the best ways to prepare for a storm as well as what to do when a storm arrives and during storm recovery:

ExpandAmerican Culture & Etiquette

Etiquette in the United States is based on values that are prominent in American culture.

ExpandIndividualism

Americans are taught to think of themselves as separate individuals more so than as members of an interdependent family, tribe, etc. They think it is important to do things for yourself rather than capitalizing on circumstances such as being born into a rich family. Competition is believed to bring the best out in people, from children trying to be the first in the class to answer a question, to colleagues vying for a promotion. And although forming relationships – including competitive ones – is important to Americans, so is privacy.

  • You may find that American colleagues focus not only on group goals and working as a team, but also – and sometimes more so – on their own goals.
  • If an American appears to be competing with you, it is likely that they do not mean to be confrontational.
  • You may hear an American state that he or she needs some “me” time – that means they want to spend some time alone.
  • You may hear the compliment that someone is a “self-made man.”

ExpandAction

The general American attitude is that there is no such thing as fate; rather, we control our own destinies. This leads to the general attitude that action is better than inaction – “don’t just stand there, do something!” – and a general refusal to accept that anything (even nature) is outside of our control. Further, Americans generally believe that the ideal person is a “hard worker,” and success is very highly valued in American culture.

  • Americans tend to see failure as the result of not working hard enough.
  • Americans usually see success as a tangible, measurable thing; the results you achieve in your career may seem to be focused on more than the work that went into them.
  • Americans tend to see change as a good thing, equating it with “progress” even though others may see its effects as detrimental. Values such as tradition, continuity, heritage, stability, etc. – while important to Americans – may not be as important as they are to you.

ExpandEquality

One of our most important values, this idea is found in the Declaration of Independence: “all [people] are created equal.” Although Americans certainly make distinctions among themselves based on age, societal position, gender, wealth, etc., all men and women are considered to be equal under the law, no matter their skin color, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

  • It is standard to say “thank you” to waiters, store clerks, etc., for their service, although they are simply performing their job duties rather than doing you a favor.
  • Displays of deference, such as bowing, may make Americans feel uncomfortable.

ExpandInformality

Because of the lack of a rigid societal hierarchy in daily life, Americans’ relationships with one another – not only among family, but also with strangers in public places – are usually friendly and casual rather than formal.

  • You can expect waiters, store clerks, etc. to introduce themselves using their given names and treat you in a casual, not extremely deferential, manner.
  • You may also find that Americans dress very casually, i.e., in tank tops, blue jeans, and sandals while not at work, or simple slacks and a shirt at work. They also do not pay much attention to keeping perfect posture, including when they address each other; if an American colleague leans against a wall during conversation, realize that it probably isn’t intended as a signal that he or she is tired of the interaction.
  • Americans will say “hi” to just about everyone, and often will also ask “how are you doing?” This usually does not actually signal desire to hear about all the details of your day, but rather it is a sign of friendliness and good manners. The standard response is usually something along the lines of “Great, thanks, how are you?”

ExpandTime

Americans see time as a finite resource (“time is money”) that should not be wasted on tasks that are not seen as having visible benefits. In order to capitalize on the time they have, Americans place a high value on organizational skills and efficiency. They are almost always punctual; this is seen as being considerate of other peoples’ time.

  • If you say you are having a party at 8 p.m., expect guests to start arriving at 8 p.m. or maybe even slightly earlier!
  • It is probably best to arrive a few minutes early to formal functions, such as job interviews and work meetings, to ensure that you will not be late.
  • Even for informal events, it is best to arrive on time, although this varies according to the type of event, your relationship with the host, etc. If you are going to be late, just let your host know ahead of time and apologize.

ExpandDirectness

Partly because of the value they place on time, Americans generally believe that people should state their thoughts and desires outright.

  • In general, Americans will expect you to speak openly about your concerns and not hesitate to broach the subject. This is actually considered more polite than remaining silent, as one is expected to eventually “blow up” if they hold in what is bothering them.
  • If you are criticized by an American, realize that he or she may intend their comment to be “constructive” – that is, intended to be helpful rather than offensive.

ExpandU.S. Holidays & Events

  • New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are celebrated every year on December 31 and January 1, respectively. New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) is an official holiday on which schools, offices, banks and some stores are closed. On New Year’s Eve, Americans gather to celebrate the end of a good year with friends, family, food, drink, parties, and fireworks. The night is also symbolic of starting the New Year on a good note; the climax of the night is the countdown to midnight and thus the official beginning of the New Year, at which point couples often exchange a “New Year’s kiss.” The next day, New Year’s Day, many Americans set “New Year’s resolutions” (goals) to be worked toward during the New Year.
  • Mardi Gras is a holiday celebrated mostly in Louisiana; it is celebrated on the Tuesday which falls six weeks before the Christian holiday of Easter, and it is an official holiday on which schools, offices, banks and some stores are closed. Mardi Gras “season,” however, begins several weeks before Mardi Gras day itself. This season is a traditional time for food, drink, and revelry – such as eating king cakes, attending parties, and catching beads at parades – before the Christian Lenten season begins.
  • Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on February 14. It is based on the legacy of St. Valentine, a Catholic saint; however, for most people it is simply a secular celebration of love. Americans exchange flowers, chocolates, other small gifts, and “valentines” (notes of love or affection). This occurs not only between those in relationships – who may refer to each other as “my Valentine” – but also between friends, acquaintances, students and teachers, etc.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17. It is named after St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and is a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture. Symbols of St. Patrick’s Day include the shamrock and the color green; in fact, it is customary to wear green on this day. Celebrations such as block parties and parades are enjoyed by many; New Orleans is a particularly prominent St. Patrick’s Day destination in this area. Attend a parade in Baton Rouge or New Orleans and you may catch not only beads and trinkets but also a few cabbages and potatoes.
  • Easter is celebrated on a Sunday sometime between March 22 and April 14 each year, which Christians believe is the day on which Jesus Christ rose from the dead. However, Easter is not just a religious holiday; it is also seen as symbolic of the beginning of spring. Thus, Easter symbols include eggs, bunnies, and chicks. The night before Easter Sunday, children eagerly await a visit from the Easter Bunny, who they think will leave them a basket of traditional Easter candy: chocolate eggs, chicks, and jelly beans. The next day, traditional Easter Sunday activities include not only exchanging and consuming candy but also dyeing eggs and attending Easter parades or religious services.
  • Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. On this day, Americans remember those who died in military service of their country. Many families visit graves and decorate them with flowers and American flags; they may also attend Memorial Day Parades or have picnics. This day is considered the beginning of the summer season and is an official holiday.
  • Independence Day, also called the Fourth of July, is celebrated every year on July 4. It commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which marked the United States’ independence from Great Britain. Thus, patriotic symbols such as the United States flag; the colors red, white, and blue; and the bald eagle (our national bird) are prominent. Many Americans celebrate this holiday at outdoor parties, fairs, parades, and barbecues, where they enjoy traditional “American” food and drink (hotdogs and beer are favorites) as well as firework displays.
  • Labor Day is celebrated every year on the first Monday in the month of September and is an official holiday on which schools, offices, banks and some stores are closed. It is a celebration of the achievements of American workers and the contributions they have made to the prosperity of the United States. It is also symbolic of the end of summer holiday season and the beginning of autumn, as well as the return of children to school. Since it is an official holiday, many Americans enjoy themselves at Labor Day parades and festivals, featuring speeches by prominent Americans, or – as the holiday always creates a three-day weekend – on short vacations.
  • Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, is celebrated every year on October 31. It corresponds with the eve of All Saints’ Day in Christian traditions as well as historical festivals of the dead and of the harvest. Accordingly, symbols and activities include not only those associated with autumn – scarecrows and pumpkins are used in decorations, and bobbing for apples is a common activity – but also “scary” ones. For instance, cobwebs, bats, and ghosts are commonly used to decorate one’s house, as well as the colors associated with this holiday: orange and black. Many Americans participate in the carving of pumpkins to make “Jack o’ Lanterns,” and the most-common Halloween celebration is “trick-or-treating,” when children dress up in costumes and go from house to house to receive candy from homeowners.
  • International Education Week, held each year during the third week of November, is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education designed to celebrate international education and exchange. Activities can include events such as international talent or fashion shows, seminars on global issues, movie screenings, naturalization ceremonies, and international cuisine tastings, which aim to display all of the benefits and excitement which international exchange has to offer.
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It is an official holiday on which schools, offices, banks and some stores are closed. Thanksgiving is celebrated to give thanks for the preceding year and the autumn harvest. According to tradition, it began in 1621 when the Pilgrims and Native Americans feasted together to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first harvest in the New World. Accordingly, most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with family and friends to prepare and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast featuring classic dishes such as turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie; Thanksgiving “toasts” are also customary, wherein each person at the table names something for which he or she is grateful. Americans also may celebrate by going to Thanksgiving parades. Symbols of this holiday include turkeys and cornucopias overflowing with fruits and vegetables of the fall harvest.
  • Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25. For many Americans, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and they will attend religious services on Christmas. However, people of all faiths and religions celebrate this holiday, as it has become established as a secular celebration as well as a religious one. Colors associated with Christmas are red, green, and white, and decoration is a prominent part of this holiday. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, Americans decorate their houses with Christmas symbols such as wreaths, “Christmas lights,” and ornament-decorated “Christmas trees.” On the night of December 24, known as Christmas Eve, families gather to enjoy a celebratory meal and Christmas music. That night, children eagerly await the arrival of “Santa Claus,” a jolly figure in a reindeer-drawn sled who they believe will bring the presents they will open on Christmas morning. In addition to gift-giving, Christmas morning often features music, feasting, and family time.