Federal holidays in the United States
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In The United States, a federal holiday is a legal holiday which has been recognized by the US government. Every year on a United States federal holiday, non-essential federal government offices are closed, and every federal employee is paid for the holiday. Private-sector employees required to work on a legal holiday may receive holiday pay in addition to their ordinary wages.
Federal holidays are designated by the United States Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103). Congress has authority to create holidays only for federal institutions (including federally owned properties) and employees, and for the District of Columbia. However, as a general rule other institutions, including banks, post offices, and schools, may be closed on those days. In various parts of the country, state and city holidays may be observed in addition to the federal holidays.
List of Federal Holidays
Most of the eleven U.S. federal holidays are also state holidays. A holiday that falls on a weekend is usually observed on the closest weekday. The official names came from the laws that define holidays for federal employees.
|January 1||New Year's Day||Celebrates beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities usually start the previous evening.|
|Third Monday of January||Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.||Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, was actually born on January 15, 1929. Renamed or combined with other holidays in some states.|
|January 20 (every 4th year) (or the 21st if the 20th is a Sunday)||Inauguration Day||Inauguration of President of the United States and other elected federal officials, in the year following every year that is evenly divisible by four. Observed only by federal employees who work in Washington, D.C., Montgomery or Prince George's counties in Maryland, or Arlington or Fairfax counties or the cities of Alexandria or Falls Church in Virginia. When this observance is the same day as the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, employees who normally receive a holiday for Inauguration Day are not entitled to an in-lieu-of holiday.|
|Third Monday of February||Washington's Birthday||Honors George Washington. Sometimes labeled as "Presidents Day" by other than the federal government, in recognition of other American presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln (who was born February 12). The legal name of the federal holiday, however, remains "Washington's Birthday". It was historically observed on February 22, prior to passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act by Congress.|
|Final Monday of May||Memorial Day||Also known as "Decoration Day", Memorial Day originated in the 19th century as a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in the American Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. Memorial Day is traditionally the beginning of the summer recreational season in America. It was historically observed on May 30, prior to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.|
|July 4||Independence Day||Celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Also popularly known as the "Fourth of July".|
|First Monday of September||Labor Day||Celebrates achievements of workers and the labor movement. Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the summer recreational season in America.|
|Second Monday of October||Columbus Day||Marks the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the America, when he landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492 (according to the Julian calendar). Celebrated since 1792 in New York City. Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside Columbus Day in 1934 as a federal holiday at the behest of the Knights of Columbus. Historically observed on October 12, prior to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.|
|November 11||Veterans Day||Also known as Armistice Day, and (although rarely in the U.S.) occasionally called "Remembrance Day", Veterans Day is the American name for the international holiday which commemorates the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. In the United States, the holiday honors all veterans of the United States Armed Forces, whether or not they have served in a conflict; but it especially honors the surviving veterans of wars. The American holiday was briefly moved to the fourth Monday in October under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, but the change was greatly disliked and soundly criticized – among other reasons, because it put Veterans Day out of sync with international observance; so it was restored to November 11.|
|Fourth Thursday of November||Thanksgiving Day||Many Americans have a turkey dinner in honor of the dinner shared by Native Americans and the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, although the original most likely featured venison, squash and beans. Historically, Thanksgiving was observed on various days, although by the 1930s it was observed on the last Thursday of November. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt fixed it on the fourth Thursday of November, at the request of numerous powerful American merchants. (Many Americans also receive the Friday following Thanksgiving Day off work, and so many people begin their Christmas shopping on that Friday.)|
|December 25||Christmas Day||A worldwide holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Popular aspects of the holiday include decorations, emphasis on family togetherness, and gift giving. Designated a federal holiday by Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870 (16 Stat. 168), however this only applied to federal employees in Washington D.C. The holiday did not apply to all federal employees until 1968 (Pub.L. 90–363, 82 Stat. 250-251).|
New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day are observed on the same calendar date each year. Holidays that fall on a Saturday are observed by federal employees who work a standard Monday to Friday week on the previous Friday. Federal employees who work on Saturday will observe the holiday on Saturday; Friday will be a regular work day. Holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed by federal workers the following Monday. The other holidays always fall on a particular day of the week.
Federal law cannot compel state, municipal, or other local governments to observe or recognize federal holidays in any way; the Tenth Amendment effectively reserves holiday creation policy to the governments of the several states.[improper synthesis?] Most states do recognize all federal holidays; however, some have been slower than others to adopt them. Arizona and New Hampshire notably refused to establish Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday as a legal holiday until long after the federal and 48 other state governments had already done so. California celebrates the date of admission to statehood, Admission Day, along with other holidays outlined in California Codes, Government Code Sections 6700-6721.
Private employers also cannot be required to observe federal or state holidays. Some private employers, often by a union contract, pay a differential such as time-and-a-half or double-time to employees who work on some federal holidays. However, most non-unionized private sector employees only receive their standard pay for working on a federal holiday if it is not a designated holiday at their company.
Legal holidays due to presidential proclamation
Federal law also provides for the declaration of other public holidays by the President of the United States. Generally the president will provide a reasoning behind the elevation of the day, and call on the people of the United States to observe the day "with appropriate ceremonies and activities." However, there is no requirement that business or government close on these days, and many members of the general public may not be aware that such holidays even exist.
For example, by Executive Order, President George W. Bush declared September 11, 2002, a "National Day of Mourning" in honor of those that died in the September 11 terrorist attacks and ordered all executive departments, independent establishments, and other governmental agencies closed. This did not apply to governmental agencies that should remain open for reasons of national security or defense or other essential public business.
Some people have objected to honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and Christopher Columbus with holidays. In particular, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina opposed the creation of Martin Luther King Day.
- List of observances in the United States by presidential proclamation
- Public holidays in the United States
- "Cornell University Law School: US Code Collection. 6103". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "2010 Federal Holidays". Opm.gov. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "Federal Holidays". Opm.gov. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- Stathis, Stephen. "Federal Holidays: Evolution and Application". CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- Federal Holidays Calendars from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
- Church, George (October 31, 1983). "A National Holiday for King". Time (Time Inc). Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Federal Holidays: Evolution and Application, CRS Report for Congress, 98-301 GOV, updated February 8, 1999, by Stephen W. Stathis
- Northern District of California Court Information
- United States Code: Federal Holidays (5 USC 6103)
- Department of Commerce Federal Holiday Calendar
- Official US Federal Holiday calendar