California State Holidays 2023: Celebrating Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in the Golden State


California State Holidays 2023: A Guide to Celebrations and Observances

Get ready to mark your calendars as we dive into the exciting world of California State Holidays 2023! From commemorating historical events to celebrating cultural traditions, this article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the holidays and observances that will take place throughout the year.

In this article, we will explore the significance of each holiday, how it is celebrated, and any special events or activities that you can participate in. Whether you’re a local resident or planning a visit to the Golden State, this guide will ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the festivities.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day is celebrated on January 1st and marks the beginning of the new year. It is a public holiday in California and is celebrated with enthusiasm and joy.

Many people start the day by attending New Year’s Eve parties and watching the countdown to midnight. Fireworks displays can be seen in various locations throughout the state, including major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On New Year’s Day, people often gather with family and friends to enjoy a delicious brunch or prepare special meals. It’s also common for individuals to set resolutions for the upcoming year, reflecting on personal goals and aspirations.

In addition to these traditional celebrations, California offers various events and activities that are specific to New Year’s Day. These can include:

  • Polar Bear Plunge: Some coastal cities in California, such as San Diego, host annual Polar Bear Plunge events. This involves participants plunging into the cold ocean waters to kickstart the new year with a refreshing experience.
  • Rose Parade: A major event in Pasadena, California, is the Rose Parade. This spectacular parade showcases intricately designed floats adorned with vibrant flowers, marching bands, equestrian units, and more. It’s a beloved tradition that attracts thousands of spectators from around the world.
  • Hiking and Outdoor Activities: California’s diverse landscape offers countless opportunities for outdoor activities. Many people choose to start the year by going on a hike, taking in the beauty of nature, and embracing a healthy and active lifestyle.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed as a state holiday in California on the third Monday in January. This holiday commemorates the life and achievements of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His tireless efforts in fighting for racial equality and justice have left an indelible impact on American society.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Californians take part in various events and activities to honor and remember Dr. King’s legacy. Here are some notable ways in which this day is celebrated:

  1. Parades and Marches: Communities across California organize parades and marches to commemorate Dr. King’s contributions. These events often involve inspirational speeches, music, and participants carrying signs or banners displaying messages of equality and justice.
  2. Volunteering: Many individuals and organizations use this holiday as an opportunity to give back to their communities. They engage in volunteer work at local charities, shelters, or schools, contributing their time and efforts to uplift others, just as Dr. King advocated.
  3. Educational Programs: Schools, museums, and community centers often organize educational programs and workshops that delve into the history and significance of the civil rights movement led by Dr. King. These programs aim to educate people of all ages about the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion.
  4. Art Exhibitions: Galleries and art centers often host exhibitions showcasing artwork inspired by Dr. King and his message. These exhibitions provide a platform for artists to express their perspectives on social justice and inspire conversations about equality.
  5. Community Gatherings: Many Californians gather in churches, community centers, and other venues for prayer services, panel discussions, or roundtable conversations on social issues. These gatherings foster dialogue and create spaces for reflection and growth.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day serves as a reminder of the ongoing work required to achieve equality and justice for all. It encourages individuals to reflect on their own actions and contributions towards a more equitable society. This holiday not only celebrates the past achievements of Dr. King, but also inspires Californians to continue the fight for justice and equality in the present and future.

Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, is a public holiday in California observed on the third Monday in February. It is a day to honor and celebrate the contributions of the nation’s past presidents, especially George Washington, the first president of the United States.

On Presidents’ Day, Californians take part in various activities and events to commemorate this historic occasion. Here are some key highlights:

  1. Parades and Celebrations: Cities across California organize parades and festivities to honor the country’s presidents. These parades often feature marching bands, floats, and local community groups, creating a fun and patriotic atmosphere.
  2. Historical Reenactments: Many historical sites and museums in California hold special events and reenactments, offering visitors a firsthand experience of important moments in presidential history. These reenactments bring the past to life and provide educational opportunities for both children and adults.
  3. Museum Exhibits: Museums throughout the state curate exhibits dedicated to the presidents, showcasing artifacts, documents, and interactive displays that highlight their accomplishments and significance. These exhibits offer visitors a chance to deepen their knowledge of American history.
  4. Sales and Discounts: Presidents’ Day is known for its sales and discounts, with many retailers offering promotions on a wide range of products. Californians take advantage of these deals to purchase items such as furniture, electronics, and clothing.
  5. Outdoor Activities: Due to California’s mild climate, many people take advantage of the long weekend to enjoy outdoor activities. Popular choices include hiking, camping, and visiting national parks, where families can spend quality time together while appreciating the natural beauty of the state.
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Presidents’ Day serves as a valuable reminder of the enduring legacy and impact of past leaders. It is a time for reflection, education, and celebration of the ideals and principles that the presidency represents. Whether participating in parades, visiting museums, or simply enjoying time with loved ones, Californians embrace this holiday with gratitude and pride.

Event/Activity Location
Presidents’ Day Parade Sacramento
Presidential Reenactment Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley
Founding Fathers Exhibition California Museum, Sacramento
Presidents’ Day Sale Various retailers throughout the state
Outdoor Hiking and Camping

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an important holiday that is observed in California and throughout the United States on the last Monday of May. This day is dedicated to honoring and remembering the men and women of the armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

Californians take this opportunity to pay tribute to the brave soldiers who have given their lives in service to their nation. The holiday offers a chance for everyone to reflect on the sacrifices made by these courageous individuals and express gratitude for their selflessness.

Many people in California celebrate Memorial Day by attending memorial services and ceremonies held at military cemeteries and monuments across the state. These events provide an opportunity to remember the fallen soldiers and to offer support to their families. It’s a somber yet meaningful way for the community to come together and honor these heroes.

In addition to the solemn remembrance, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of the summer season in California. The long weekend presents an opportunity for Californians to relax, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy outdoor activities. Many families take advantage of the extra day off work and school to go on vacations, have barbecues, or visit the beach.

It’s important to remember that while Memorial Day is a time for celebration and relaxation, its primary purpose is to honor and remember those who have given their lives in service. Californians understand the significance of this holiday and strive to find a balance between enjoying the long weekend and paying proper respect to the fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day Facts

Here are some important facts about Memorial Day:

  • Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War.
  • It was originally called Decoration Day and was later renamed Memorial Day.
  • In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday and was moved to the last Monday in May.
  • The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day originated from the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
  • The National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed in 2000, designating 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day as a moment for Americans to pause and observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the fallen.

Independence Day

Independence Day is a significant state holiday celebrated in California on July 4th. It commemorates the day when the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. The holiday holds immense historical and patriotic significance for Californians, who take pride in honoring their nation’s founding principles and values.

Californians celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm and a range of festivities. The day typically starts with morning parades featuring marching bands, floats, and patriotic displays. Community gatherings are held in parks and public spaces, where families and friends come together for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor activities. Fireworks displays are a highlight of the evening, illuminating the night sky with vibrant colors and awe-inspiring spectacles.

Many cities in California organize large-scale events to mark Independence Day. For example, San Francisco hosts a renowned fireworks show over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. In Los Angeles, residents flock to the Hollywood Bowl for a patriotic concert and firework extravaganza. These events attract thousands of spectators from across the state and provide a memorable experience for all.

Apart from these larger celebrations, Californians also engage in personal traditions to honor Independence Day. It is common to see homes adorned with American flags, and families gathering for backyard barbecues and pool parties. The day often serves as an opportunity for Californians to reflect on their country’s history, appreciate the freedom and liberties they enjoy, and express gratitude to those who have served in the armed forces to protect these freedoms.

As with many other state holidays, Independence Day brings people together to celebrate, reflect, and enjoy the company of loved ones. It is a time when Californians embrace their shared heritage and show their appreciation for the great nation they call home. With its festive atmosphere and patriotic spirit, Independence Day serves as a reminder of the resilience, unity, and pride that define California and the United States.

Labor Day

Labor Day is a significant holiday in California and is observed on the first Monday in September. It is a day dedicated to honoring and celebrating the contributions of workers to the American economy. This holiday originated in the late 19th century and has since become an important marker of the end of summer.

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Californians embrace Labor Day as an opportunity to relax, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy the last long weekend before the fall season begins. Many people take advantage of the extra day off by planning trips, organizing barbecues, or participating in outdoor activities. Beaches, parks, and recreational areas are often bustling with families and friends soaking up the sun and savoring the final moments of summer.

In addition to leisurely activities, Labor Day also marks the beginning of back-to-school season. As families prepare for the start of the academic year, they may take advantage of the holiday sales that are common during this time. Retailers often offer special discounts on school supplies, clothing, and electronics, making it a popular time for shopping.

While many Californians take advantage of the holiday to relax and enjoy themselves, it is important to remember the significance of the day. Labor Day serves as a reminder of the achievements and advancements made by workers throughout history. It’s a time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of individuals in various industries who contribute to the growth and prosperity of the state and the nation as a whole.

Labor Day is not only a time for relaxation but also a time for reflection on the importance of labor rights, fair wages, and worker protections. It is a day to express gratitude for the contributions of workers and to recognize the ongoing need for the improvement of working conditions and the well-being of employees.

As Californians celebrate Labor Day, they honor the workers who have made a significant impact on society and strive for a better future for all employees.

Columbus Day

Columbus Day is another important state holiday in California that is observed on the second Monday in October. It’s a day that commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on October 12, 1492. The holiday is celebrated in honor of his expedition and the impact it had on the history and development of the United States.

Originally established as a national holiday in 1937, Columbus Day has since become recognized and celebrated in many states across the country, including California. It serves as an opportunity to reflect on the contributions, achievements, and challenges faced by Italian-American communities, as Christopher Columbus was of Italian descent.

In California, Columbus Day is often marked with parades, festivals, and other cultural events that showcase the rich heritage and traditions of the Italian-American community. It’s a time when people come together to celebrate their Italian roots, enjoy music, dance, and indulge in delicious Italian cuisine.

However, it’s worth noting that Columbus Day has become a controversial holiday in recent years. Some argue that Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas led to the colonization and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples. As a result, there have been calls to change the holiday’s focus to one that recognizes and honors the diverse cultures and contributions of Native American communities.

Despite the ongoing debates, Columbus Day remains an important holiday in California, serving as a reminder of the historical events that shaped the United States. It’s a day to acknowledge the achievements and influence of Christopher Columbus, while also encouraging discussions about the ongoing journey towards inclusivity and understanding.

As the article continues, it will explore other key state holidays in California in 2023, providing essential information and insights into each holiday. Stay tuned for more updates on the exciting celebrations and events that Californians can look forward to in the coming year.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an important holiday celebrated in California and across the United States. It is observed on November 11th each year. This day is dedicated to honoring and thanking veterans for their bravery, sacrifice, and service to the country.

Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was established to commemorate the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. It was later expanded to include honoring all American veterans from all wars.

In California, Veterans Day is marked with various events and activities that recognize and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the military. Here are some highlights:

  • Parades: Many cities in California organize parades featuring military organizations, veterans, active-duty personnel, and patriotic themed floats. These parades provide an opportunity for the community to come together and show their support.
  • Memorial Services: Veterans Day also serves as a time to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. California holds memorial services at cemeteries, memorial parks, and other locations to pay homage to fallen heroes.
  • Flag ceremonies: Flag raising and lowering ceremonies are held at various locations, including schools, government buildings, and military bases. These ceremonies emphasize the significance of the American flag and its representation of freedom and democracy.
  • Commemorative events: California hosts a range of commemorative events, such as special concerts, art exhibits, and military exhibitions. These events aim to educate the public about the history of veterans and the sacrifices they have made.

It’s important to note that Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which specifically honors those who have died in military service. Veterans Day, on the other hand, recognizes and celebrates all veterans, both living and deceased.

While Veterans Day is a day of appreciation and gratitude, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced by veterans and advocate for their well-being. Many organizations and individuals use this day to raise awareness about the needs of veterans and to support them in their transition back to civilian life.

Overall, Veterans Day holds great significance in California, as it allows the state and its residents to express their deep appreciation for those who have served and protected the nation. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans and encourages continued support for their well-being.

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Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is another important holiday in California, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. This day has a long history and is widely observed throughout the state.

Thanksgiving Day is a time for family and friends to come together and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. It is a day of feasting, giving thanks, and reflecting on the achievements and abundance of the past year. Many Californians gather around the dinner table to enjoy a traditional meal that typically includes turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

In addition to the delicious food, Thanksgiving Day also brings a range of activities and traditions. One popular tradition is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a grand procession of giant balloons, floats, and marching bands in New York City. Many people in California also participate in turkey trots, which are organized races or fun runs held on Thanksgiving morning. These events promote healthy living and offer an opportunity to give back to the community, as many turkey trots raise funds for charitable causes.

In recent years, there has also been a growing trend of Californians opting for alternative Thanksgiving celebrations. Some individuals and families prefer to volunteer at local food banks or homeless shelters to help those in need. Others choose to spend the day outdoors, enjoying the beautiful California weather with activities such as hiking, biking, or picnicking.

Overall, Thanksgiving Day in California is a time for reflection, gratitude, and togetherness. It serves as a reminder to appreciate the blessings in life and the importance of giving back to the community. Whether celebrating through traditional feasts or engaging in alternative activities, Californians embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving and make the most of this cherished holiday.

  • Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Californians gather with family and friends to enjoy a traditional meal.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is a popular tradition.
  • Turkey trots are organized races or fun runs held on Thanksgiving morning.
  • Alternative Thanksgiving celebrations include volunteering and outdoor activities.

Christmas Day

Every year on December 25th, people around the world celebrate Christmas Day as a religious and cultural holiday. In California, it is no different. Christmas Day is recognized as a state holiday, providing residents an opportunity to observe this joyous occasion.

During Christmas, Californians engage in a variety of traditions and activities to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Families come together to exchange gifts, decorate Christmas trees, and enjoy festive meals. It is a time to spread love and kindness, as many Californians participate in acts of charity and give back to their communities.

One of the highlights of Christmas Day is attending religious services to celebrate the spiritual significance of the holiday. Churches throughout California hold special services and ceremonies, attracting a multitude of worshippers. With diverse religious communities, Californians have the freedom to practice their faith in various ways.

Apart from religious observances, Christmas Day is also marked by festive events and activities. Cities and towns across the state decorate their streets with enchanting lights and ornaments, creating a magical atmosphere. Additionally, many parks and gardens host holiday-themed events that include winter wonderlands, ice skating rinks, and parades.

While some Californians prefer to spend Christmas Day indoors with family and loved ones, others take advantage of the mild climate to engage in outdoor activities. Coastal cities provide the perfect backdrop for beachside barbecues, picnics, and outdoor games. Additionally, California’s proximity to the mountains allows residents to embark on skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing adventures in the winter wonderlands of the Sierra Nevada or the San Bernardino Mountains.

Overall, Christmas Day in California is a time of celebration, reflection, and togetherness. Whether engaging in religious observances, participating in festive events, or enjoying outdoor activities, Californians fully embrace the holiday spirit. It is a day to cherish the company of loved ones, give thanks for blessings received, and make lasting memories. So, make the most of this enchanting holiday and savor the joy and camaraderie that Christmas brings.


California State Holidays in 2023, specifically Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, are significant occasions for Californians to come together and celebrate. Thanksgiving Day is a time to express gratitude for blessings, with traditional meals and activities like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Alternative celebrations, such as volunteering and outdoor activities, are also gaining popularity. Christmas Day, recognized as a state holiday, is a time for various traditions and activities to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Californians exchange gifts, decorate Christmas trees, attend religious services, and participate in festive events. With the freedom to practice their faith in diverse ways and the mild climate allowing for both indoor and outdoor celebrations, Californians make the most of these holidays. Overall, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in California are moments of celebration, reflection, and togetherness for the entire state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the significance of Thanksgiving Day in California?

A: Thanksgiving Day in California is a time for expressing gratitude, enjoying traditional meals, and engaging in activities such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Q: Are there alternative celebrations for Thanksgiving in California?

A: Yes, there is a growing trend of alternative celebrations for Thanksgiving in California, including volunteering and outdoor activities.

Q: What is the significance of Christmas Day in California?

A: Christmas Day in California is recognized as a state holiday and is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Q: What are some common traditions and activities during Christmas in California?

A: Common traditions and activities during Christmas in California include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending religious services, and participating in festive events.

Q: How do Californians practice their faith during Christmas?

A: Californians have the freedom to practice their faith in diverse ways during Christmas, both indoors and outdoors, thanks to the mild climate.

Q: What is the overall atmosphere during Thanksgiving and Christmas in California?

A: Both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in California are times of celebration, reflection, and togetherness.

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