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The Global Marketer’s Guide To North American Holidays

Written by: Carolyn Berk, Content Marketing Associate

Want to expand your business to North America? Then you need to know about the many unique marketing opportunities that happen each month. While each country on the continent has its own individual holidays and occasions, there are many overlapping events and traditions that you can harness to drive sales and bring more attention to your business. Whether you hail from APAC, EMEA, or points beyond, here are all the holidays you should consider when building your digital advertising strategy for North America.

January - Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

In North America, January is more than the first month of the new year. It’s also considered by many to be a chance to live better by acting on New Year’s resolutions. After celebrating Christmas in December with time off from work, lots of food and alcohol, popular goals include losing weight, exercising more frequently, eating better, and getting organized. For North Americans in colder climates, winter weather tends to inspire travel, whether it’s embracing the plunging temperatures with ski trips or escaping to warmer, tropical climates. Winter sports like ice skating, sledding, skiing, and snowboarding are especially popular during this month.

Notable Days:

January 1 – New Year’s Day

January 18 – The United States recognizes the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

February is a big month for gift buying thanks to Valentine’s Day. Cards, flowers, chocolates and other romantic items are popular during this mid-month celebration of love. On a much different note, Mardi Gras is held in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday and calls for partying and other acts of self indulgence before the start of Lent.

Notable Days:

February 2 – Groundhog Day

February 5 – Constitution Day (Mexico)

February 7 – In the US, many have parties to watch the Super Bowl (the annual football championship game)

February 9 – Mardi Gras

February 14 – Valentine’s Day

February 15 – President’s Day (US). Many businesses hold sales around this day, mainly for items like cars, clothes, tech, and furniture.

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

In March, many college students in North America have a week off from classes for Spring Break, which they celebrate by taking vacations to warmer climates, oftentimes on the beach. March is also a month of celebrations, whether it’s with green clothes and a pint of beer on Saint Patrick’s Day, a slice of pie on geometry-themed Pi Day, or cheering on college teams during March Madness, an all-month basketball tournament.

The first day of Spring usually falls during March. Some use it as a head start to begin purchasing spring clothes, gardening supplies, or other warm-weather items.

Notable Days:

March 14 – Pi Day

March 17 – Saint Patrick’s Day

March 27 – Easter

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

For many parts of North America, April is when the weather begins to warm up. Many start planting gardens, participating in outdoor recreational activities, cleaning and organizing their homes, or purchasing summer clothes. Holidays like Earth Day involve celebrating this rejuvenation and venturing outside. In the US and Canada, the baseball season begins this month. April also marks the beginning of prom season, when many high school students shop for formal wear, jewelry and corsages to wear to the biggest school dance of the year.

Notable Days:

April 1 – April Fools Day

April 22 – Earth Day

April 22-30 – The Jewish holiday Passover

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In May, the weather is warm in most parts of North America, leading to an increase in outdoor activities like BBQs, picnics, gardening and yard work, garage sales, and camping. Also in May, families begin to prepare for upcoming summer weddings and graduations, with many of them purchasing gifts, clothing for the big day or decorations for accompanying parties.

In the US, Memorial Day is considered to be the unofficial start of summer. Many retailers hold sales during Memorial Day weekend.

Notable Days:

May 5 – Cinco de Mayo (US)

May 8 – Mother’s Day (US and Canada)

May 30 – Memorial Day

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

June is a popular month for weddings, which leads many wedding guests to make purchases like gifts for the couple, outfits to wear to the ceremony or travel-related purchases if the wedding is further away. Many people also travel for vacations in June, and prepare with purchases likes swimsuits, sunglasses, sandals and other summer clothes. The weather is hot for most parts of North America, inspiring purchases for outdoor activities like camping and grilling. Many also buy items that help them escape the heat and cool off, like air conditioning units and fans.

Notable Days:

June 19 – Father’s Day (US and Canada)

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

July is the peak time for summer vacations, with many families taking road trips, going to amusement parks, or visiting the beach. School’s officially out for students, and many kids spend the summer at day camps, overnight camps or working summer jobs. Canada Day and July 4th mean plenty of celebrating with BBQs, festivals, parades, and fireworks.

Notable Days:

July 1 – Canada Day

July 4 – Independence Day (US)

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

While summer activities like traveling, beach-going and grilling remain popular in August, towards the end of the month many begin to look ahead to September. Parents start stocking up on back-to-school supplies, and preparing their college-bound kids for dorm life with organizers, comforters, furniture and electronics like laptops and iPads. Even though the weather is still warm, shoppers prepare for cooler autumn temperatures by purchasing sweaters, jackets, and boots.

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

The September mindset is fall-focused as people trade swimsuits for sweaters and iced coffee for hot chocolate. Autumn activities like apple picking, pumpkin carving, leaf raking, foliage trips, hayrides, and harvest festivals are particularly popular this time of year. In the earlier part of September, many parents and students have back-to-school products on their mind, however that focus dies down by mid-month. Also starting in September is a craze for pumpkin and apple flavored everything, including food, drinks, scents, candles and beauty products.

In the US, the football season usually begins in early to mid September. Many people spend their weekend watching and cheering for their favorite NFL or college football teams.

The German beer festival Oktoberfest begins in late September, and runs through early October. Beer and German themed items are particularly popular for Oktoberfest celebrations in North America.

Notable Days:

September 5 – Labor Day, the unofficial last day of summer. Many people use this holiday weekend to travel or enjoy their favorite summer activity one last time.

September 16 – Independence Day (Mexico)

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

October is all about ghosts, goblins, skeletons, black cats, jack o’ lanterns, and any other scary figures that goes hand-in-hand with Halloween. The holiday falls on the last day of October, leading many to spend the month buying Halloween costumes and candy, in addition to visiting haunted houses, watching horror movies or anything else that works up a scare. October is also when many high schools hold Homecoming dances, which inspire teens to purchase dresses, suits, jewelry and corsages to wear. In the US and Canada, the hockey and basketball season begin this month.

Notable Days:

October 10 – Columbus Day is a minor holiday in the US. Many stores mark this day with special one-day sales.

October 10 – Canadian Thanksgiving, like American Thanksgiving, is celebrated with a large turkey dinner, family and football.

October 31 – Halloween

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

For several months people have been researching holiday presents, and the week of Thanksgiving kicks off a frenzy of holiday shopping when business offer large sales and discounts — in-store in the case of Black Friday, and online in the case of Cyber Monday. Although online holiday purchases have traditionally been completed on desktop, we noted a large spike in mobile shopping during the 2014 holiday season.

Notable Days:

November 1 – Day of the Dead (Mexico)

November 11 – Veterans Day (US)

November 11- Remembrance Day (Canada)

November 24 – Thanksgiving (US). Traditionally it’s a day filled with family, football and a massive dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. There is also a great deal of travel surrounding this holiday, as people journey across the country to visit family.

November 25 – Black Friday (US). Some eager shoppers choose to head to the stores in the early hours of the morning, drawn by widely-promoted sales.

November 26 – Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This day encourages shoppers to visit small local businesses in their community.

November 28 – Cyber Monday occurs on the Monday following Thanksgiving, when many people head back to work. This is a very popular day for online shopping, so many digital retailers offer special deals and promotions which they heavily advertise.

Marketer's Guide to North American Holidays

By the time December hits, the holiday spirit is in full swing, with many people decorating (usually with lights, wreaths, and Christmas trees), making and eating treats (including gingerbread cookies, cakes, peppermint candies, and eggnog) and participating in holiday activities like caroling, ice skating, going on sleigh rides, visiting Santa Claus, seeing holiday shows and movies, and having holiday parties. There is also a good deal of traveling as people go to visit their family and friends. Many people shop to buy Christmas gifts for loved ones and online sales increase dramatically as people scramble to buy gifts that will be shipped out in time for the holidays. The eight nights of Hanukkah usually fall in December, also contributing to the holiday season shopping rush.

Notable Days:

December 24 – Christmas Eve

December 25 – Christmas

December 26 – Boxing Day (Canada)

December 26 to January 1 – Kwanzaa (US, African American)

December 31 – New Year’s Eve

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