Public holidays in the United States

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Independence Day fireworks

Public holidays in the United States of America are typically observed on days that have significance for various sectors of American society and are observed at all levels of society including government, the private sector, and are typically derived from the history, religion and the cultures of the U.S. demographics and have changed over time. They are however not mandated by any government, agencies, whether it be federal, state, or local governments. There are no national holidays on which all businesses are closed by law. Federal holidays are only established for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for Washington, D.C. All other public holidays are created by the States; most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As a result, holidays have not historically been governed at the federal level and federal law does not govern business opening. Some states restrict some business activities on some holidays.[1]

As of 2012, there are eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual holidays and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day).[2] Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.[3]



While all current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states for federal organizations, each state is not bound to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays. Many states also have additional holidays that are not observed by the U.S. federal government.[4] Many businesses likewise observe certain holidays as well, which are also not mandated by any government agency. A list of "recommended diversity holidays" recognizes many cultures that range from Christianity to Islam, as well as racial diversity where various ethnic holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Mardi Gras, and Cinco de Mayo are celebrated by individuals in the workplace, as a matter of best practice.[5] In light of recent race issues in the United States, many municipalities both at the city and state levels have begun celebrating Malcolm X Day and Rosa Parks Day in addition to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to embrace the mostly disenfranchised African American community in the form of festivals and parades if not done as a legal public holiday. Illinois and Berkley, California are two places where Malcolm X is honored with a legal holiday with offices closed whereas Missouri honored Rosa Parks on her birthday.[6][7] Today, the United States is the 85th most ethnically diverse in the world. While the popularity of each public holiday cannot easily be measured, the holiday with the highest greeting card sales is Christmas.[8] Major retail establishments such as malls, shopping centers and most retail stores close only on Thanksgiving and Christmas and some on Easter Sunday as well, but remain open on all other holidays (early closing on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and sometimes on other major holidays).[9] Virtually all companies observe and close on the major holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Some non-retail business close on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) while some (such as federal banks and post offices) are not allowed to close on the day after Thanksgiving. Some smaller businesses normally open on Sunday will close on Easter Sunday, if it is their experience they will have very few customers that day.[10]

Federal holidays[edit]

A Christmas holiday display with over 3.5 million lights in Clifton, Ohio

Federal holidays are designated by Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103). A federal holiday is a day off for federal government employees. State governments generally observe federal holidays. Most private companies and certain other businesses, such as the United States Postal Service, observe some or all federal holidays as well.

If a holiday falls on a Saturday, the federal government celebrates it the preceding Friday; if a holiday falls on a Sunday the federal government celebrates it the following Monday. Most, but not all, states also observe a Sunday holiday on the following Monday. States may observe a Saturday holiday on the preceding Friday, on the following Monday, or not at all.

Private companies and other businesses are not required to follow either the federal government or state government holidays. In particular, banks that close on Saturdays do not observe a federal holiday when it falls on Saturday.

Date Official Name Percentage of Americans celebrating **Percentage of businesses offering paid time off[11] Remarks
January 1 (Fixed) New Year's Day[12] 72%[13] 96% Celebrates beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to 12:00 midnight on the preceding night, New Year's Eve, often with fireworks display and party. The ball drop at Times Square in New York City has become a national New Year's festivity. Traditional end of Christmas and holiday season.[14]
Third Monday in January Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. 26%[15] 34-38% Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights leader, who was actually born on January 15, 1929; combined with other holidays in several states. Some cities and municipalities hold parades; and more recently, the 1994 King Holiday and Service Act, which was passed to encourage Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service, has gained in popularity (sometimes referred to as a National Day of Service).
Third Monday in February (Presidents' Day) Washington's Birthday 52%[16] 34-35% 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 falls on Washington's actual birthday). Because of this, combined with the fact that President Lincoln's birthday falls on February 12, 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.[17]
Last Monday in May Memorial Day 21%[18] 95% 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 (Fixed) Independence Day 79%[19] 97% Celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule, also called the Fourth of July or simply "The Fourth". Fireworks celebration are held in many cities throughout the nation. Boston, Massachusetts is famous for its "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" with music and fireworks
First Monday in September Labor Day 53%[20][21] 95% Celebrates the achievements of workers and the labor movement; marks the unofficial end of the summer season.
Second Monday in October Columbus Day 8%[22] 13-16% Honors Christopher Columbus, traditional discoverer of the Americas.
November 11 (Fixed) Veterans Day 43% [23] 16-21% Honors all veterans of the United States armed forces. It is observed on November 11 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 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect).
Fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day 87%[24] 97% Traditionally celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. Traditionally includes the sharing of a turkey dinner.
December 25 (Fixed) Christmas 90%–95%[25][26] 94% The most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

* List of Federal Holidays by Year from the U.S. Government[27] (see Office of Personnel Management)

** Additional holidays referenced: Good Friday 26%, Easter Monday 6%, Yom Kippur 7%, Day before Thanksgiving 3-8%, Day after Thanksgiving 69-75%, Day before Christmas Eve 33%, Christmas Eve 78-79%, Day after Christmas 40-64%, Day before New Years Eve 25-71% depending if it falls on a weekend, New Years Eve 71%

Abolished federal holidays[edit]

The Eighth (The Battle of New Orleans)[edit]

Celebrated widely across the US South after this final battle in the War of 1812, "The Eighth" became an Official US National Holiday in 1828. The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815, with Tennessee's Andrew Jackson leading a successful battle against regular British soldiers and freed slaves. Following Jackson's Election as US President, the day earned official national recognition. The Eighth continued as an official National Holiday from 1828 until the advent of the US Civil War.

The holiday remains largely forgotten by the American public.[28]

Victory Day[edit]

Crowds celebrating V-J Day in Times Square, New York City

In 1975, the one notable holiday called Victory Day, also called "VJ Day" and "Victory over Japan Day" was abolished after being in place since 1948. Today, only the U.S. state of Rhode Island still officially observes this holiday with public offices and schools being closed.[29]

Proposed federal holidays[edit]

Additional holidays have been proposed. According to an article from CBS, federal holidays are generally "expensive"[clarification needed] and they only allow federal workers to take the day off. As the U.S. federal government is a large employer, the holidays are expensive. If a holiday is controversial, opposition will generally cause bills that propose such holidays to die. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, for example, was one that took much effort to pass. And once it did pass, it took more effort for all states to eventually recognize it.[30]

The following list is an example of holidays that have been proposed and have reasons why they are not observed at the federal level today. Some of the holidays are observed at the state level.

Date Official Name Remarks
Third Monday of February Susan B. Anthony Day The holiday was proposed by Carolyn Maloney in a H. R. 655 on February 11, 2011. Today, the bill is dead.[31]
Last Monday of March Cesar Chavez Day The holiday was proposed California Democrat Joe Baca in H.R. 76 and was further endorsed by President Barack Obama[32]
Third Monday in May Malcolm X Day The holiday was proposed in H.R. 323 in 1993 and 1994 by Congressman Charles Rangel.[33] The holiday has gained support in light of the recent race issues. 2015 marked the first official Malcolm X Day when it became a legal holiday in Illinois.
June 14 Flag Day Proposed several times, but only to become a national observance when President Harry Truman signed it into law as such.[34]
Third Monday of September Native Americans' Day The holiday was petitioned to Congress multiple times, but was unsuccessful. The proclamation exists today as the "Native American Awareness Week."[35]
First Tuesday after November 1 Election Day or Democracy Day There have been multiple movements for this holiday to be official, with the last happening in with the "1993 Motor Voter Act", mainly to boost voter turnout.[36]

Proposed abolishment of existing federal holidays[edit]

Three particular federal holidays have had controversy surrounding their legal status, which include the federal status of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Columbus Day, and Christmas Day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day[edit]

Some individuals and organizations have objected to the federal status of certain holidays, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Columbus Day. In particular, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina opposed the creation of the federal holiday for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr in 1983.[37]

Columbus Day[edit]

Main article: Columbus Day

Wide protests by the Native American community as well as some Italian Americans support the abolition of Columbus Day, mainly due to its ideology in "forcefully" conquering and converting whole populations with another and encouraging "imperialism" and "colonization.[38] Glenn Morris of the Denver Post wrote that Columbus Day "... is not merely a celebration of Columbus the man; it is the celebration of a racist legal and political legacy - embedded in official legal and political pronouncements of the U.S. - such as the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny." [39]

Christmas Day[edit]

Christmas Day as a federal holiday has been objected to by various sources,[40][41][42] usually due to its ties with the Christian religion. In December 1999, the U.S. District Court, in the case Ganulin vs. United States, denied the charge that Christmas Day's federal status violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, ruling that "the Christmas holiday has become largely secularized", and that "by giving federal employees a paid vacation day on Christmas, the government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday".[43][44]

Federal observances[edit]

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.

Trading holidays[edit]

See also New York Stock Exchange

Trading holidays of the New York Stock Exchange closely resembles those designated as federal holidays except for Columbus Day and Veterans Day. A total of nine days are designated, which includes Good Friday where trading is not done.[45]

In addition, partial trading occurs on the day after Thanksgiving, the day before Independence Day, and Christmas Eve.

The official list is as follows:

Bank holidays[edit]

U.S. bank holidays are generally the same as those observed at the federal level, but depend on the bank. For example, JP Morgan Chase observes all federal holidays except Columbus Day.[46] U.S. Bank on the other hand observes all of the federal holidays.[47]

School holidays[edit]

The academic year typically spans from early fall to early summer, with two or three months of summer vacation marking the end of year. K-12 public schools generally observe local, state, and federal holidays, plus additional days off around Thanksgiving, the period from before Christmas until after New Year's Day, a spring break (usually a week in April) and sometimes a winter break (a week in February or March). Two or three days per year are sometimes devoted to professional development for teachers, and students have the day off.

Most colleges and universities divide the school year into two semesters. The fall semester often begins the day after Labor Day in early September and runs until mid-December. The spring semester typically starts in the middle or end of January and runs until May. Winter and summer classes might be offered in January and May–August. Major federal, state, and local holidays are often observed, including the day after and usually before Thanksgiving. Spring break is usually a week in March or early April, and in college party culture traditionally involves a warm-weather trip.

Unscheduled weather-related cancellations and emergency cancellations can also affect school calendars.

Religious and cultural holidays[edit]

The religious and cultural holidays in the United States is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. However, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...." and Article VI specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." As a result, various religious faiths have flourished, as well as perished, in the United States. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unique among developed nations.[48]

The majority of Americans (73–80%) identify themselves as Christians and about 15–20% have no religious affiliation.[49] According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) (2008) 76% of the American adult population identified themselves as Christians, with 51% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant or unaffiliated, and 25% professing Catholic beliefs.[50] The same survey says that other religions (including, for example, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 4% of the adult population, another 15% of the adult population claim no religious affiliation, and 5.2% said they did not know, or they refused to reply. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew forum, 36 percent of Americans state that they attend services nearly every week or more.[51]

Drinking holidays[edit]

According to the National Institute of Health, about 86% of the U.S. population drinks alcohol recreationally or socially.[52] In the United States, the holidays that are considered the most "festive" are generally regarded as some of the "most drunken holidays." Celebrations usually revolve around barbecues and beer. Although many of these holiday lack any official status, these holidays are generally observed by the drinking culture for the fact that these holidays revolve around drinking. One measurement of the popularity of these holidays can be measured by the amount of alcohol purchased for the occasion. One particular survey names New Years Eve as the holiday for which the most alcohol is consumed based on sales.[53] While many holidays are listed, some are generally notable for their drinking requirement while others are known for abstinence.[54]

African American holidays[edit]

2003 Kwanzaa celebration with its founder, Maulana Karenga, and others

African Americans make up about 12% of the U.S. population. While some customs have come from abroad, many of the customs were developed inside the United States. Kwanzaa, for example, is a custom has greatly influenced American culture originating from the "turbulent 60's" when race relations in the United States was at its lowest.[58] Most of the newer holidays revolve around a particular civil rights activist and have recently gained attention from city and state level governments. At the federal level, only Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored.

Date Name Remarks
1st Sunday in February Super Bowl Sunday Usually served at a private party while watching the Super Bowl.
1st Tuesday in February Mardi Gras Any alcohol.
March 17 St. Patrick's Day usually celebrated with green beer.[55]
1st week of April Opening Day Ale or lager.[56]
May 5 Cinco de Mayo Usually celebrated with a Mexican alcohol like tequila or Margarita
July 4 Independence Day Typically served while eating hot dogs and Hamburgers.
1st week in October Oktoberfest Usually German beer
December 31 New Years Eve Traditionally with champagne and is considered the "most drunk" of all American holidays. More alcohol is consumed on this holiday than any other day.[57]
October 31 Halloween Usually served at Halloween parties.
Date Name Remarks
Dec. 26
Jan. 1
Kwanzaa Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the Western African diaspora in the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.[59] Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–67.
Third Monday of January Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the only American federal holiday marking the birthday of an African American. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15.
February Black History Month Also known as the "African American History Month" which was set aside as an observance of important leaders of the African diaspora.
Feb. 4
Dec. 1
Rosa Parks Day Currently observed in the states of California, Missouri, and Ohio to honor the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks Day was created by the California State Legislature and first celebrated February 4, 2000.[60] The holiday was first designated in the U.S. state of Ohio championed by Joyce Beatty, advocate who helped Ohio's legislation pass to honor the late leader.[61] In 2015, Missouri has declared Rosa Parks Day a legal holiday.
April 16 (DC) Emancipation Day Currently observed in Washington, D.C., Mississippi, Texas (as Juneteenth), Kentucky, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in observance of the emancipation of slaves of African descent. It is also observed in other areas in regard to the abolition of serfdom or other forms of servitude.
May 19 Malcolm X Day Currently observed in Berkley, California, and Illinois, this holiday honors Malcolm X as a civil rights leader as a legal holiday with offices closed. Various municipalities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. have festivals commemorating the civil rights leader.
June 19 Juneteenth Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth[62][63] and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.
2nd Sunday in June African New Year Celebrated as the "Odunde Festival" as a one-day festival and mostly a street market catered to African-American interests and the African diaspora. It is derived from the tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria in celebration of the new year. It is centered at the intersection of Grays Ferry Avenue and South Street in the U.S. city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Christian holidays[edit]

A Stabat Mater depiction, 1868
Main article: Liturgical year

In the United States, Christmas is a government holiday while Good Friday is not at the federal level. Good Friday is a state holiday in Connecticut,[64] Delaware,[65] Florida,[66] Hawaii,[67] Indiana,[68] Kentucky,[69] Louisiana,[70] New Jersey,[71] North Carolina,[72] North Dakota,[73] Pennsylvania,[74] Tennessee[75] and Texas.[76] State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as some banks and postal offices in these states, and in those counties and municipalities where Good Friday is observed as holiday. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam,[77] the U.S. Virgin Islands[78] and Puerto Rico.[79]

While most[citation needed] stores close on Christmas, some remain open. For example, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and CVS Pharmacy remain open.[80] A reference in A Christmas Story shows a Chinese restaurant being the only establishment open on Christmas.

Some private businesses and certain other institutions are closed on Good Friday.[81] The financial market and stock market is closed on Good Friday.[82] Most retail stores remain open although some might close early. Public schools and most universities are closed on Good Friday, either as a holiday of its own, or part of spring break. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.[2]

Easter is recognized as a flag day but has not been a federal holiday because it always falls on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. However, many companies, including banks, malls, shopping centers and most private retail stores that normally open on Sundays are closed on Easter.[10]

Date Name Remarks
January 6 Epiphany Epiphany (from Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation"), falls on the 12th day after Christmas. It commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the miracle of the wine at the marriage feast at Cana. One of the three major Christian festivals, along with Christmas and Easter. Epiphany originally marked the beginning of the carnival season preceding Lent, and the evening preceding it is known as Twelfth Night.
January 7 Orthodox Christmas January 7th is the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of December 25 on the Julian Calendar still observed by the Russian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches.
February 14 Valentine's Day St. Valentine's Day, or simply Valentine's Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. Modern traditional celebration of love and romance, including the exchange of cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts.
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 penitential season of Lent in the Western Christian calendar.
March 17 St. Patrick's Day A holiday honoring Saint Patrick that celebrates Irish culture. Primary activity is simply the wearing of green clothing ("wearing o' the green"), although drinking beer dyed green is also popular. Big parades in some cities, such as in Chicago, where there is also a tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green.
Sunday before Easter Palm Sunday Celebration to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
The Friday before (western) Easter Good Friday Friday of Holy Week, when Western Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Good Friday is a holiday in some individual counties and municipalities, as well as a state holiday in Connecticut,[64] Delaware,[65] Florida,[66] Hawaii,[67] Indiana,[68] Kentucky,[69] Louisiana,[70] New Jersey,[71] North Carolina,[72] North Dakota,[73] Tennessee[75] and Texas.[76] State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as state-chartered banks and in these jurisdictions. Federal banks and post offices that are located in buildings that close for Good Friday and Easter will also be closed. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam,[77] U.S. Virgin Islands[78] and Puerto Rico.[79] Many public and private schools, colleges, universities and private-sector businesses; and the New York Stock Exchange and financial markets are closed on Good Friday.
Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, date varies from March 22 to April 25, inclusive (see Computus), Easter Celebration of the resurrection of Jesus in most Western Christian churches. A minority of Protestant churches do not observe Easter. Eastern Orthodox (including Western Rite), Oriental Orthodox and some Neo-Celtic churches observe Easter according to a different calendar, usually on a later Sunday (thus they also observe Palm Sunday and Good Friday on different days than Western Christians).

Many Americans decorate hard-boiled eggs and give baskets of candy, fruit, toys and so on, especially to children; but gifts of age-appropriate Easter baskets for the elderly, the infirm and the needy are increasingly popular. An annual Easter Egg Roll has been held at the White House South Lawn for young children on Easter Monday since President Hayes started the tradition in 1878.[83] Not a federal holiday due to the fact that it always falls on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. Many companies that are normally open on Sunday close for Easter.

October 31 Halloween Originally the end of the Celtic year, it now celebrates Eve of All Saint's Day. Decorations include jack o'lanterns. Costume parties and candy such as candy corn are also part of the holiday. Kids go "trick-or-treating" to neighbors who give away candy. It is not generally observed by businesses, and is one of the most popular holidays in the U.S.
December 8 Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that the Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin from her moment of conception. Companies in some states will give day off to their employees.
December 24 Christmas Eve Day before Christmas. Virtually every business closes early, though a few remain open 24 hours.
December 25 Christmas Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a Federal Holiday.

Hindu holidays[edit]

Rangoli decorations, made using colored powder, are popular during Diwali.

According to some sources, the Hindu holidays of Diwali and Holi are commonly celebrated as a "mainstream" holiday throughout the United States, not only by Indian Americans or peoples of Indian descent. Many firms that hire a people from India will even go as far as observing the holidays with a celebration within the company or even approving it as a paid day off.[84][85] Holi, the "festival of colors" has inspired a Broadway musical based on this festival.[86] New York City Council has voted on a resolution that may make Diwali and Holi a legal holiday in Resolution 1863-2013.[87] As of August 2013, the resolution has passed and the holidays are now officially legal holidays in New York City.[88] CNN reported that the Diwali holiday is shown in American pop culture through an episode of The Office.[89][90]

Date Name Remarks
February or March (depends on Hindu calendar) Holi Holi (English pronunciation: /ˈhl/) (Sanskrit: होली) is a spring festival also known as Festival of Colors, and sometimes Festival of Love.[91][92] It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities.[93]
October or November (depends on Hindu calendar) Diwali Diwali (English pronunciation: /dɨˈwɑːl/ or English pronunciation: /dɨˈvɑːl/) also called the Festival of lights'", is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year.[94][95] The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.[76][96][97] The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Jewish holidays[edit]

Main article: Hebrew calendar
A Hanukkah menorah

According to various sources, the three most commonly celebrated Jewish holidays are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah.[98] Passover and Yom Kippur in addition to Rosh Hashannah and Hanukkah are recognized as an optional state level holiday in the U.S. state of Texas[99][100] All Jewish holidays start the night before, as that is when the Jewish day begins.

Date Name Remarks
Usually April (very rarely starts in March or ends in May) (depends on Hebrew Calendar) Passover פסח A seven- or eight-day festival in Judaism (seven days in Israel, eight outside of Israel), commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. For Karaite Jews, Passover is the holiest day of the year and is the festival that marks the beginning of the year. Some Christian groups celebrate Passover instead of Easter. In many regions with large Jewish communities, schools close for all or part of Passover. In some regions with large Jewish populations, schools may close.
May or Early June (depends on Hebrew Calendar) Shavuot שבעות A two-day (one in Israel) festival celebrating the receiving of the Torah, or bible, at Sinai. Many people have the custom to eat dairy foods, specifically cheesecake.
September (depends on Hebrew calendar) Rosh Hashanah ראש השנה Observed by Jewish people. Traditional beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. It also celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Rosh Hashanah. It is a widely accepted custom to dip an apple in honey on the first night. Unlike other holidays where the Diaspora (outside of Israel) celebrate extra days, this holiday is observed for two days everywhere.
September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar) Yom Kippur יום כיפור Observed by Jewish people.

This day marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is described in Leviticus as a "Sabbath of rest," and synagogue services begin the preceding sundown, resume the following morning, and continue to sundown. Orthodox and many Conservative Jews fast on Yom Kippur. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Yom Kippur.

October (depends on Hebrew calendar) Sukkot סוכות A nine-day (eight in Israel) holiday celebrating the huts Jews lived in for forty year after the Exodus before getting to Israel. It also celebrates the cloud of glory that protected the Jews in the desert during the same period. Jews eat, and some sleep, in a special hut called a sukkah outside their home for the first seven days. Also, the 'four species' or 'Arba Minim', ארבע מינים, the Lulav לולב or Palm Fran, the Etrog אתרוג or citron, the Aravot ערבות or willow branch, and the Hadasim הדסים, are shaken in the sukkah in the morning, as well as during prayers. The Seventh Day, known as Hoshanah Rabbah הושנה רבה is the last day of the season of repentance started on Rosh Hashanah, and has extra prayers in addition to the extra holiday prayers. The Eighth day is known as Shemini Atzeret שמיני עצרת and is to some degree considered a different holiday. The ninth day (or part of the eighth in Israel) is known as Simchat Torah שמחת תורה and celebrates he finishing of one cycle of reading the Torah or bible, and includes much joyous singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls during prayers. In many regions with large Jewish communities, schools close for all or part of Passover.
December (very rarely starts in November or ends in January), (depending on Hebrew calendar) Hanukkah חנוכה 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. Candelabras are lit, one candle on the first night and adding one candle per night. It is also a widely accepted custom to spin a top-like toy called a dreidel, and to give coins to the children.
March (rarely at the end of February)(depends on the Hebrew calendar) Purim פורים A one-day holiday, celebrated the Jews being saved from a plot by Haman, the second-in-command to Persian king, Achasverosh, or Xerxes, to exterminate every single Jew. It is generally celebrated by reading the Book of Esther in Synagogue the preceding night (which, like all Jewish holidays, is actually part of the holiday) and in the morning, giving charity, giving presents of food baskets to at least two friends, and having a celebratory feast. Unlike most other Jewish holidays (other than Hannukah), work is allowed including using electricity, and other prohibited actions on Sabbath, and other holidays. The day before (or the Thursday before, if Purim is on a Sunday) is a fast day commemorating the fast of Esther before she met with King Achashverosh. In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated the day after the rest of the world.

Muslim holidays[edit]

Main article: Muslim holidays
Mehndi is the application of henna as a temporary form of skin decoration, commonly applied during Eid al-Fitr in Indian subcontinent culture.

According to various sources, the major holidays of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha have been recognized in the United States. Awareness of these holidays can be found in calendars published by major calendar manufacturers.[101] [102][103] According to Al-Jazeera, schools in the U.S. states of New York and Michigan (mainly Dearborn) may begin to close in observance of all Muslim holidays.[104]

Date Name Remarks
depends on Muslim calendar(in this year is on June and July) Ramadan Ramadan (Arabic: رمضانRamaḍān, IPA: [rɑmɑˈdˤɑːn];[variations] Persian: رَمَضان‎‎ Ramazān; Urdu / Punjabi رَمْضان Ramzān; Turkish: Ramazan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar;[105] Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting.[106][107] This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.[108] The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.[109][110] The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness.[111] Fasting is fard ("obligatory") for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.[112] Fasting the month of Ramadan was made obligatory (wājib) during the month of Sha'aban, in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina.
depends on Muslim calendar (in this year is on 16 of July) Eid al-Fitr Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطرʻĪd al-Fiṭr, IPA: [ʕiːd al fitˤr], "festival of breaking of the fast"), also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival[113] and the Lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The religious Eid is a single day and Muslims are not permitted to fast on that day. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. This is a day when Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia(lunar calendar).
depends on Muslim calendar (in this year is on 24 of September) Eid al-Adha Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحىʿīd al-aḍḥā [ʕiːd ælˈʔɑdˤħæ] meaning "Festival of the sacrifice"), also called the Feast of the Sacrifice, the Major Festival,[114] the Greater Eid, Kurban Bayram (Turkish: Kurban Bayramı; Bosnian: kurban-bajram), Eid e Qurban (Persian: عید قربان‎‎) or Bakr'Eid (Urdu: بکرا عید‎), is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year. It honors the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ishmael (Ismail)a as an act of submission to God's command, before God then intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead.[115] In the lunar-based Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days.[116] In the international Gregorian calendar, the dates vary from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

Other religious, traditional, and informal holidays celebrated in the United States[edit]

In addition to the federal/national 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 (Except for Easter and most often also on Good Friday);[10] 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 2 Groundhog Day The day on which folklore states that whether or not a local groundhog casts a shadow determines if the spring season will arrive early or on time.
March 8 International Women's Day A day set aside to honor women and their accomplishments in history.
April 1 April Fools' Day A day that people commonly play tricks or jokes on family, friends, and co-workers, especially in English-speaking nations. Sometimes called "the Feast of All Fools" as a play on the feast days of saints; there is no evidence the holiday has any Christian religious origins.
April 22 (varies by location and observance) Earth Day A celebration of environmentalism.
Last Friday in April Arbor Day A day for planting trees.
May 1 May Day In most other countries, May 1 is International Workers' Day, the equivalent of Labor Day, which commemorates the labor movement and the ultimate triumph of socialism over capitalism. This theme borrows from the pagan origins of May Day which emphasized the change in season and the triumph of the warm sun over the cold winter. The holiday is often celebrated with parades and protests for workers' rights and other broad social issues.
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 Mexico itself, often celebrated even by non-Mexican-Americans. 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)
First Sunday in June Children's Day Proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2001 to honor children.[117]
June 14 Flag Day Commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, in 1777.
June 27 Helen Keller Day Commemorates the achievements of Helen Keller and the blind.
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 nationwide demonstration for equal rights, the Women's Strike for Equality, in 1970.
First Sunday after Labor Day Grandparent's Day Similar to Mother's/Father's Day but honoring grandparents and grandparenthood.
September 11 Patriot Day Commemorates the attacks on the World Trade Center (New York City), The Pentagon (Washington, D.C.), and United Airlines Flight 93 in 2001.
September 17 Constitution/Citizenship Day Commemorates the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
October Oktoberfest 16 day folk festival drinking beer. Modeled after the original Oktoberfest from Munich, Germany.
October 6 German-American Day Commemorates the date in 1683 when 13 German families from Krefeld near the Rhine landed in Philadelphia. These families subsequently founded in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first German settlement in the original thirteen American colonies.
October 9 Leif Erikson Day Honors Leif Erikson, the Norse Viking explorer, who led the first Europeans to discover and set foot in the New World.
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.
Day After Thanksgiving Black Friday Traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. "Black Friday" is not a holiday under that name, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees. Virtually all schools, colleges, and universities are also closed, along with many non-retail private sector businesses. Federal government offices, post offices and federally chartered banks must open on Black Friday (unless the President issues an executive order or proclamation allowing them to close). It is called "Black Friday" because it begins the sales period when most American retailers make their profits for the year. Contrary to popular belief, Black Friday is not the busiest sales day of the year (that honor belongs to Christmas Eve, December 24). Rather, it is the barometer by which retailers are able to gauge December sales and whether they will indeed end the year "in the black" (instead of "in the red"). A busy Black Friday almost invariably indicates a busy shopping season, while poor sales on Black Friday usually herald a very slow season.
December 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Day to mourn the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
December 31 New Year's Eve Final Day of the Gregorian year. Usually accompanied by much celebration, such as party and fireworks. Virtually every company and retail outlet closes early, except for stores that sell alcoholic beverages and party supplies.

Legal holidays by states and political divisions of the United States[edit]

Not to be confused with tax holidays


Confederate Memorial Day observance in Alabama





César Chávez Day poster




District of Columbia[edit]


As of 2015, multiple states observe Susan B. Anthony Day. Florida is the only state that actually observes the day with state offices closed. Currently, no federal holiday honors a woman in the United States.






Malcolm X Day became an official Illinois holiday in 2015, being the first state in the nation to make the holiday official.






Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans.










Arbor Day tree planting


New Hampshire[edit]

New Hampshire is one of a few states which does not honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with its official national federal name.

New Jersey[edit]

New Mexico[edit]

New York[edit]

North Carolina[edit]

North Dakota[edit]



  • All federal holidays
  • Friday after 4th Thursday in November - Day after Thanksgiving



Flag Day is observed in Pennsylvania.

Puerto Rico[edit]

  • All federal holidays
  • January 6 - Three Kings Day/Epiphany
  • March 22 - Emancipation Day
  • variable date - Good Friday
  • July 25 - Constitution of Puerto Rico Day
  • November 19 - Discovery of Puerto Rico Day
  • December 24 - Christmas Eve (Holiday observance begins at noon local time)

Rhode Island[edit]

South Carolina[edit]

South Dakota[edit]



U.S. Virgin Islands[edit]

  • All federal holidays
  • January 6 - Three Kings Day
  • March 31 - Transfer Day
  • Holy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • July 3 - Emancipation Day
  • Fourth Monday in July - Hurricane Supplication Day
  • Second Monday in October - this federal holiday (Columbus Day) is renamed "Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day"
  • October 25 - Hurricane Thanksgiving
  • November 1 - Liberty Day
  • December 26 - Christmas Second Day
  • December 31 - New Year's Eve




Wake Island[edit]

  • All federal holidays except Washington's Birthday and Columbus Day. All Friday holidays are celebrated on Saturday and all Monday holidays are celebrated on Tuesday to account for the time zone difference with the states. Weekday holidays such as Thanksgiving are celebrated as they fall.[150]
  • March 22 - Wake Island Day
  • December 5 - King of Thailand's Birthday


West Virginia[edit]



Federal holidays at the state level[edit]

While most federal holidays are observed at the state level, some of these holidays are observed with different names, are observed on different days, or completely not observed in some states of the United States. ^ a. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is known officially as Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona,[153] and New Hampshire,[154] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Arkansas,[155] Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Florida,[156] and Maryland,[157] Martin Luther King Jr. / Idaho Human Rights Day in Idaho,[158] and Martin Luther King's and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Mississippi.[159] ^ b. Washington's Birthday is known officially as President's Day in Alaska,[160] California,[161] Hawaii,[162] Idaho,[158] Maryland,[157] Nebraska,[163] New Hampshire,[154] Tennessee,[164] Washington,[165] West Virginia,[166] and Wyoming,[167] Washington-Lincoln Day in Colorado (CRS 24-11-101),[168] Ohio,[169] Lincoln/Washington/Presidents' Day in Arizona,[153] George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day in Arkansas,[155] Presidents' Day in Hawaii,[162] Massachusetts,[170] New Mexico,[171] North Dakota,[172] Oklahoma,[173] South Dakota,[174] Texas,[175] and Vermont,[176] Washington's Birthday/President's Day in Maine,[177] Presidents Day in Michigan,[178] Minnesota,[179] Nevada,[180] New Jersey,[181] and Oregon,[182] Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday in Montana,[183] Washington and Lincoln Day in Utah,[184] and George Washington Day in Virginia.[185] ^ The day after Thanksgiving is observed in lieu of Columbus Day in Minnesota.[179] ^ Columbus Day is listed as a state holiday in New Hampshire although state offices remain open.[154] ^ President's Day, Good Friday (11am-3pm), Juneteenth Day (June 19), Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Partisan Primary Election Day, and General Election Day are listed as a state holiday in Wisconsin although state offices remain open.[186][187]

Legal holidays observed nationwide[edit]

Other holidays locally observed[edit]

Non-holiday notable days[edit]

  • Super Bowl Sunday (the first or second Sunday in February; the day of the National Football League's championship, festivities generally including in-home parties and watching the game on television with beverages and snacks)
  • Cricket World Cup is watched by a quarter of the world's population. Its popularity in the United States has made many offices and shops close particularly where Indians and Pakistanis work. The article cites Chicago as an example, however the phenomenon is prevalent throughout the United States.[192][193]
  • Super Tuesday (political event, variable)
  • 420 (April 20th; counterculture holiday in which participants meet and consume cannabis)
  • Tax Freedom Day (day in which an average citizen is said to have worked enough to pay his or her taxes for the year)
  • Opening Day (first week of April; the beginning of the Major League Baseball season and an unofficial indication that summer is approaching)
  • Tax Day (federal and state tax deadline, (April 15) or if on weekend or holiday, next closest Monday or business day)
  • Star Wars Day (unofficial holiday created by fans to honor the Star Wars franchise. Typically May 4 for the pun "May the fourth be with you")
  • Pi Day (March 14) (On March 14 for the pi number 3.14)
  • Free Comic Book Day (an annual promotional effort started in 2002 to bring in new consumers to independent comic book stores, takes place the first Saturday in May)
  • Go Skateboarding Day (June 21).
  • International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19): a tongue-in-cheek holiday celebrating Pirate culture
  • Oktoberfest (celebrated most often in areas with contemporary or historic populations of German heritage)
  • Black Friday (Busy shopping day where stores lower prices the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season)
  • Small Business Saturday (The day after Black Friday; encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local)
  • Cyber Monday (The equivalent of Black Friday, except online, the Monday after Black Friday)
  • Festivus (December 23): made famous on the television show Seinfeld.
  • Spring Break (one week in late winter or spring that schools are off)
  • Summer Vacation (summer months in which schools are off)

See also[edit]


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