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Public holidays in the United States: Wikis


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The United States does not have national holidays in the sense of days on which all employees in the U.S. receive a day free from work and all business is halted. The U.S. Federal government can only recognize national holidays that pertain to its own employees; it is at the discretion of each state or local jurisdiction to determine official holiday schedules. There are eleven such "Federal holidays", ten annual and one quadrennial holiday. The annual Federal holidays are widely observed by state and local governments; however, they may alter the dates of observance or add or subtract holidays according to local custom. Pursuant to the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 (taking effect in 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. There are also U.S. state holidays particular to individual U.S. states.

Most retail businesses close on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but remain open on all other holidays. Private businesses often observe only the "big six" holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Some also add the Friday after Thanksgiving, or one or more of the other federal holidays.


Federal holidays

Federal holidays are designated by Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103). If a holiday falls on a Saturday it is celebrated the preceding Friday; if a holiday falls on a Sunday it is celebrated the following Monday. Most, but not all, states and most private businesses also observe a Sunday holiday on the following Monday. It is less common, however, for a state or private business to observe a Saturday holiday on the preceding Friday. Some states and private businesses may observe it then, a few may observe it on Monday, and some may not observe the holiday at all in those years. In particular, banks that close on Saturdays do not observe a holiday when it falls on Saturday.

Date Official Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Celebrates beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to midnight (12:00 AM) on the preceding night, New Year's Eve. Traditional end of holiday season.
Third Monday in January Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Honors Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights leader, who was actually born on January 15, 1929; combined with other holidays in several states.
January 20, the first January 20 following a Presidential election Inauguration Day Observed only by federal government employees in Washington D.C., and the border counties of Maryland and Virginia, in order to relieve congestion that occurs with this major event. Swearing-in of President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Celebrated every fourth year. Note: Takes place on January 21 if the 20th is a Sunday (although the President is still privately inaugurated on the 20th). If Inauguration Day falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday is not a Federal Holiday.
Third Monday in February Washington's Birthday Washington's Birthday was first declared a federal holiday by an 1879 act of Congress. The Uniform Holidays Act, 1968, shifted the date of the commemoration of Washington's Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February (between February 15 and 21, meaning the observed holiday never actually falls on Washington's actual birthday). Because of this, many people now refer to this holiday as "Presidents' Day" and consider it a day honoring all American presidents. However, neither the Uniform Holidays Act nor any subsequent law changed the name of the holiday from Washington's Birthday to Presidents' Day.[1]
Last Monday in May Memorial Day Honors the nation's war dead from the Civil War onwards; marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season. (traditionally May 30, shifted by the Uniform Holidays Act 1968)
July 4 Independence Day Celebrates Declaration of Independence, also called the Fourth of July.
First Monday in September Labor Day Celebrates the achievements of workers and the labor movement; marks the unofficial end of the summer season.
Second Monday in October Columbus Day Honors Christopher Columbus, traditional discoverer of the Americas. In some areas it is also a celebration of Italian culture and heritage. (traditionally October 12)
November 11 Veterans Day Honors all veterans of the United States armed forces. It is observed on 11 November to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918 (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice).
Fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day Traditionally celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. Traditionally includes the consumption of a turkey dinner. Traditional start of the holiday season.
December 25 Christmas Celebrates the birth of Jesus.

Federal observances

The Congress has designated various United States federal observances—days, weeks, months, and other periods for the observance, commemoration, or recognition of events, individuals, or other topics. These observances do not have the status of holidays in that Federal employees do not receive any days free from work for observances.

Other holidays observed nationwide

In addition to the official holidays, many religious, ethnic, and other traditional holidays populate the calendar, as well as observances proclaimed by officials and lighter celebrations. These are rarely observed by businesses as holidays; indeed, many are viewed as opportunities for commercial promotion. Because of this commercialization, some critics apply the deprecatory term Hallmark holiday to such days, after the Hallmark greeting card company.

Date Name Remarks
February or March, date varies Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday A festive season (Carnival) leading up to Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Closes with Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays), which starts the season of Lent in the Christian calendar.
Usually First Sunday in February Super Bowl Sunday The day of the National Football League's championship, the Super Bowl, which is the top prize in the sport of American football. Festivities generally include in-home parties and watching the game on television with beverages and snacks.
February 2 Groundhog Day The day on which the behavior of a groundhog emerging from its burrow is said to predict the onset of Spring.
February 14 Valentine's Day Traditional celebration of love and romance, including the exchange of cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts.
March 17 Saint Patrick's Day A celebration of Irish heritage and culture, based on the Catholic feast of Saint Patrick. Primary activity is simply the wearing of green clothing ("wearing o' the green"), although drinking beer dyed green is also popular. Attending St. Patrick's Day parades has historically been more popular in the United States than in Ireland.
April 1 April Fools' Day A day to play tricks on family, friends, and coworkers, if so inclined. This day used to be the start of the New Year. The tradition started when New Year's Day was moved from April 1 to January 1.
late March or April (Date varies) (March 21 for 2008) Good Friday Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by Pontius Pilate, believed by Christians to have taken place (traditionally) on April 1, AD 33. Sometimes celebrated as a "Spring holiday" for Universities and schools in certain states. Catholics traditionally celebrate by abstaining from meat to honor Christ's death.
Spring Sunday (date varies), first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon after the vernal equinox Easter Celebrates the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus. For Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and the gathering of family. Many Americans follow old traditions of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving children baskets of candy. On the next day, Easter Monday, the President of the United States holds an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for young children. The holiday is also often celebrated as a nonsectarian spring holiday. Not generally observed by most businesses as it always falls on a Sunday. Most financial markets and some other businesses close on the Friday prior, Good Friday (which is a state holiday in many states). Roman Catholic and Protestant groups celebrate Easter on a different Sunday (most years) than Orthodox groups.
April 22 (varies by location and observance) Earth Day A day used to promote environmentalism.
Spring, date varies Arbor Day A day for the planting of trees, commonly the last Friday of April but depending on the climate of the state.
May 5 Cinco de Mayo Primarily a celebration of Mexican culture by Mexican-Americans living in the United States. Although this is the anniversary of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, Cinco de Mayo is far more important in the USA than in México itself, often partially celebrated even among non-Mexican-American. Additionally, this "holiday" is often mistaken by Americans as being Mexican Independence Day, which is actually observed on September 16.
Second Sunday in May Mother's Day Honors mothers and motherhood (made a "Federal Holiday" by Presidential order, although most Federal agencies are already closed on Sundays)
June 14 Flag Day Commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States.
Third Sunday in June Father's Day Honors fathers and fatherhood.
August 26 Women's Equality Day Celebrates the fight for, and progress towards, equality for women. Established by the United States Congress in 1971 to commemorate two anniversaries: Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ensuring Woman Suffrage in 1920 and a nation-wide demonstration for equal rights, the Women's Strike for Equality, in 1970.
September 11 Patriot Day Discretionary day of remembrance designated in memory of the 2,993 casualties in the September 11, 2001, attacks.
September 17 Constitution/Citizenship Day Commemorates the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar) Rosh Hashanah Traditional beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. It is also celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar.
September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar) Yom Kippur Traditional end of and highest of the Jewish High Holidays.
October 9 Leif Erikson Day A Holiday to swim, imitate Vikings, to celebrate how Leif Ericson was the first European to step foot on America.
October 31 Halloween Celebrates All Hallow's Eve, decorations include jack o'lanterns, costume wearing parties, and candy such as candy corn are also part of the holiday. Kids go trick-or-treating to neighbors who give away candy. Not generally observed by businesses.
first Tuesday after the first Monday in November Election Day Observed by the federal and state governments in applicable years; legal holiday in some states.
December (depends on Hebrew calendar) Hanukkah an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.
December 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Day to mourn the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941
December 21 Winter Solstice Day to celebrate the sun, because the winter solstice is the day with the least daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.
December 24 Christmas Eve Day before Christmas Day
December 25 Christmas Day Celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Marks the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas. Has become a major event for many retailers due to heightened economic activity.
December 26 through January 1 Kwanzaa African American holiday celebration created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga
December 31 New Year's Eve Final Day of the Gregorian year. Usually accompanied by much celebration.

Legal holidays by states

Alabama Alabama [2]

Alaska Alaska [3]

Arizona Arizona

Arkansas Arkansas [4]

California California [5]

Colorado Colorado

Connecticut Connecticut

Delaware Delaware

Washington, D.C. District of Columbia

Florida Florida

Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia

Hawaii Hawaii [6]

Idaho Idaho

Illinois Illinois [7]

Indiana Indiana

Iowa Iowa

Kansas Kansas [8]

Kentucky Kentucky [9]

Louisiana Louisiana [10]

Maine Maine

Maryland Maryland

Massachusetts Massachusetts [11]

Michigan Michigan

Minnesota Minnesota

Mississippi Mississippi

Missouri Missouri

Montana Montana

Nebraska Nebraska

Nevada Nevada

New Hampshire New Hampshire [12]

New Jersey New Jersey

New Mexico New Mexico

New York New York

North Carolina North Carolina

North Dakota North Dakota [13]

Ohio Ohio

Oklahoma Oklahoma

Oregon Oregon

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

Rhode Island Rhode Island

South Carolina South Carolina

South Dakota South Dakota

Tennessee Tennessee

Texas Texas [14]

Utah Utah

Vermont Vermont

Virginia Virginia

Washington Washington

West Virginia West Virginia

Wisconsin Wisconsin

Wyoming Wyoming[15]

Other holidays locally observed

Non-holiday notable days

  • Super Tuesday (political event, variable)
  • Tax Freedom Day (day in which an average citizen is said to have worked enough to pay his or her taxes for the year, used by opponents of taxation)
  • Tax Day (federal and state tax deadline, (April 15) or if on weekend or holiday, next closest Monday or business day)
  • Oktoberfest (celebrated most often in areas with contemporary or historic populations of German heritage)
  • Festivus (December 23): made famous on the TV show Seinfeld.
  • Feast of Maximum Occupancy, holiday made up by Homer Simpson in The Simpsons episode Homer the Heretic.
  • Black Friday (Busy shopping day where stores lower prices the Friday after Thanksgiving)
  • Cyber Monday (The equivalent of Black Friday except online)
  • Opening Day (The beginning of the Major League Baseball season and a unofficial indication that summer is approaching)

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "AL holidays". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  3. ^ "Alaska State Holidays". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  4. ^ "State Holidays in Arkansas". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  5. ^ "State Holidays". Department of Personnel Administration. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  6. ^ "State Holidays of Hawaii". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  7. ^ "Holidays in Illinois". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  8. ^ "State Holidays". Department of Administration. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  9. ^ "Kentucky". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  10. ^ "Louisiana state holidays". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  11. ^ "State Holidays". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "State Holidays". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  14. ^ "Official Texas State Holidays". Texas State Library and Archives Commision. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  15. ^ "State Holidays". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  16. ^ Section 1-3-8

External links



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