Public holidays of the United States

Public holidays of the United States

Strictly speaking, the United States does not have national holidays (i.e. days where 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 [ Quadrennial: one year in four.] 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.

In the U.S., 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.

Most American holidays recognize events or people from U.S. history, although two are shared in common with many other countries: Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Thanksgiving in the United States is on the fourth Thursday in November.

The "holiday season" in the winter traditionally runs between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, which encompasses the Winter solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

"Summer" traditionally (though unofficially) runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Federal holidays

Federal holidays are designated by Congress in Title V of the United States Code (usc|5|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, but not all, private businesses also observe a Sunday holiday on the following Monday. It is less common, however, for a sate 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.

* [ Federal Holidays Calendars] from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Federal observances

Federal observances differ from Federal holidays in that Federal employees only receive a day free from work on holidays, not observances. Federal observances that are designated by Congress appear in Title 36 of the United States Code (usc|36|101 et seq.). Below is a list of all observances so designated. Note that not all of the laws below require that the observance be declared, in some cases, such as usc|36|114, Congress simply requested the President to issue a proclamation of the observance.

The President may also declare selected Federal observances by presidential proclamation. Those observances are referenced at the List of observances in the United States by presidential proclamation.


* — Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day (First Saturday after Labor Day)
* — Child Health Day (The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Monday in October as Child Health Day)
* — Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (September 17)
* — Columbus Day (The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation designating the second Monday in October as Columbus Day.)
* — Father's Day (Third Sunday in June)
* — Flag Day (June 14)
* — Gold Star Mother's Day (Last Sunday in September)
* — Law Day, U.S.A. (May 1)
* — Leif Erikson Day (The President may issue each year a proclamation designating October 9 as Leif Erikson Day.)
* — Loyalty Day (May 1)
* — Memorial Day
* — Mother's Day (Second Sunday in May)
* — National Aviation Day (August 19)
* — National Day of Prayer (First Thursday in May)
* — National Defense Transportation Day (The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation designating the third Friday in May as National Defense Transportation Day.)
* — National Freedom Day (February 1)
* — National Grandparents' Day (The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Sunday in September after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.)
* — National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day (July 27 of each year until 2003)
* — National Maritime Day (May 22)
* — National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)
* — Pan American Aviation Day (The President may issue each year a proclamation designating December 17 as Pan American Aviation Day.)
* — Parents' Day (Fourth Sunday in July)
* — Peace Officers Memorial Day (The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of Federal, State, and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.)
* — Stephen Foster Memorial Day (The President may issue each year a proclamation designating January 13 Stephen Foster Memorial Day.)
* — Thomas Jefferson's birthday (April 13)
* — White Cane Safety Day (The President may issue each year a proclamation designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.)
* — Wright Brothers Day (December 17)
* — Patriot Day (September 11)
* — Halloween (October 31)


* Constitution Week
* National Flag Week
* National Forest Products Week
* National Poison Prevention Week
* National Safe Boating Week
* National School Lunch Week
* National Transportation Week
* Police Week
* Save Your Vision Week
* National Friendship Week


* — American Heart Month (February)
* Black History Month (February)
* National Nutrition Month (March)
* Women's History Month (March)
* — Cancer Control Month (April)
* Child Abuse Prevention Month (April)
* — Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
* — Steelmark Month (May) — honors the steel industry
* Gay and Lesbian Pride Month (June)
* — National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15)
* Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
* — National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)


* — Honor America Days -- The 21 days from Flag Day through Independence Day.

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.

tate holidays

In addition to the federal holidays, individual states observe the following holidays:
* Alabama: Confederate Memorial Day, fourth Monday in April
* Alaska: Alaska Day, anniversary of transfer to U.S. control, October 18; Seward's Day, anniversary of purchase from Russia, March 27
* Arkansas: Daisy Gatson Bates Day, February 16, observed with Washington's Birthday
* California: Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, February 12, César Chávez's birthday, March 31 (also may be optionally observed in Colorado and Texas); Columbus Day, second Monday in October [ [ California State Holidays] ]
* Colorado: Colorado Day August 1, 1876 Colorado became a state. This date is recognized/celebrated each year by state residents.
* Connecticut: Lincoln's Birthday, February 12; Good Friday, date varies
* Delaware: Return Day, Thursday following Election Day; every two years, celebrates the returns of an election, having political opponents "bury the hatchet" in a bucket of sand
* District of Columbia: Emancipation Day, April 16
* Florida: Pascua Florida Day, April 2
* Hawaii: Good Friday, date varies; May Day or Lei Day, date varies, usually May 1st; Kamehameha Day, June 11; Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day, March 26; Admission Day or Statehood Day, third Friday in August
* Idaho: Idaho Human Rights Day, January 19
* Illinois: Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, February 12 (most state offices close, many schools choose to close on President's Day)
* Kansas: Kansas Day, January 29
* Louisiana: Mardi Gras, date varies (3 February - 9 March); Good Friday, date varies, celebrated elsewhere
* Massachusetts: Patriot's Day, 3rd Monday of April, traditionally April 19, anniversary of Battles of Lexington and Concord
* Maine: Patriot's Day, April 19, anniversary of Battles of Lexington and Concord
* Maryland: Maryland Day, March 25, commemoration of first European settlement of Maryland
* Mississippi: Mardi Gras Day, date varies
* Missouri: Truman Day, May 9
* Nebraska: Arbor Day, last Friday of April, celebrated elsewhere
* Nevada: Nevada Day, October 31, commemorates date of admission to the Union, observed on last Friday of October.
* New Hampshire: Civil Rights Day, January 19
* Oklahoma: Statehood Day, November 16
* Rhode Island: V.J. Day or Victory Day, second Monday in August
* South Dakota: Native American Day, second Monday in October
* Tennessee [ [ State Holidays] Tennessee Blue Book, 2007-2008 edition, page 657]
**Legal holidays: Good Friday, date varies;
**Days of special observance: Robert E. Lee Day, January 19; Abraham Lincoln Day, February 12; Andrew Jackson Day, March 15; Mother's Day, Second Sunday in May; Statehood Day, June 1, commemorates date of admission to the Union; Memorial or Confederate Decoration Day, June 3; Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, July 13
* Texas: Confederate Veterans Day, January 19; Juneteenth, June 19
* Utah: Pioneer Day, July 24
* Vermont: Town Meeting Day, first Tuesday in March
* Virginia: Lee-Jackson Day,
* West Virginia: West Virginia Day, June 20

Insular area holidays

* Puerto Rico: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico day, July 25 (In Spanish: "25 de Julio", "Conmemoración del ELA", or "Conmemoración del Estado Libre Asociado")

outhern holidays

May or may not be legal holidays, depending on state law.
* Confederate Memorial Day, usually last Monday of April
** Alabama, fourth Monday in April, legal holiday
** Florida, April 26, legal holiday []
** Georgia, legal holiday
** Mississippi, legal holiday
** South Carolina, May 10, legal holiday (SC Code § 53-5-10) []
** Louisiana, June 3 [ [ The History of Memorial Day ] ]
** Tennessee, June 3
** Virginia, coincidental with US Memorial Day
* Jefferson Davis's Birthday
** Alabama, first Monday in June, legal holiday
** Florida, June 3 legal holiday
* Robert E. Lee's Birthday (often observed with MLK Day on January 19)
** Alabama, observed with MLK Day, legal holiday
** Arkansas, January 19, observed with MLK Day
** Florida, January 19, legal holiday
**Georgia, January 19, may be celebrated other days (Friday after Thanksgiving, for example)
** Mississippi, January 19, legal holiday
** Tennessee, January 19
* Nathan Bedford Forrest Day
** Tennessee, July 13
* Mardi Gras, held the day before Ash Wednesday.
**Florida, legal holiday in counties where carnival associations are organized for the purpose of celebrating the same. []
** Louisiana, legal holiday
** Mississippi, legal holiday
** Alabama, legal holiday only in Baldwin and Mobile Counties

Other holidays locally observed

* Bunker Hill Day, June 17 (Suffolk County, Massachusetts)
* Brooklyn-Queens Day, (New York City, NY), first Thursday in June
* Casimir Pulaski Day (primarily Illinois, first Monday in March)
* Day of the Dead (November 1, sometimes celebrated in areas with large Mexican-American populations; see Dia de los Muertos)
* Devil's Night (primarily Michigan, October 30)
* Dyngus Day (Polish-origin holiday, day after Easter, celebrated New York, Indiana, Michigan and North Dakota)
* Evacuation Day, March 17 (Suffolk County and Cambridge, Massachusetts; same date as St. Patrick's Day)
* Father Damien Day (Hawaii), April 15
* Indigenous Peoples Day, Berkeley, California, celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day
* International Women's Day, Berkeley, California, March 8
* Loyalty Day (domestic counterweight to May Day)
* Meck-Dec Day, (Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina), (May 20), celebrates the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
* Midsummer (celebrated in Minnesota and other Scandinavian-American areas)
* Return Day, (November 4, after noon in Sussex County, Delaware; population meets to hear election returns, party)
* Sweetest Day (celebrated on third Saturday in October in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, involves giving small presents to family, friends and lovers)
* Von Steuben Day, (mid-September, celebrated primarily by German Americans)
* Woolseymas, (December 6) A commemoration of the 1933 decision by U.S. District Court Judge John M. Woolsey that the James Joyce novel "Ulysses" was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene.

Non-holiday notable days

* Super Tuesday (political event, variable)
* Super Bowl Sunday (sports event; originally the last Sunday in January, it has now moved to the first Sunday in February)
* 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)
* Black Friday (shopping) (the day after Thanksgiving: considered to be the first shopping day of the Christmas season)
* Festivus (December 23rd): made famous on the TV show Seinfeld.


Many observances and special days are declared by the President. See list of observances in the United States by presidential proclamation.

There are many annual observances in the United States (some of which are listed above) that are not celebrated by the rest of the world.

ee also

*Holidays in Puerto Rico
*Mexican fiestas in the United States
*Easter/Good Friday controversy
*Christmas controversy
*Hallmark Holiday


External links

* [ U.S. Department of Commerce Federal Holiday Calendar]
* [ Text of Federal Holiday Legislation]
* [ Public Holidays of United States]
* [ Bizarre American Holidays] — a comprehensive compilation of special recognition given both to months and individual days. "Unfortunately, the origins of the commemorations aren't provided."
* [ Infoplease: State Holidays]
* [ Holidays In Thailand]
* [ United States Calendar With Tooltips]
* [ Federal Holidays: Evolution and Application] , CRS Report for Congress, 98-301 GOV, updated February 8, 1999, by Stephen W. Stathis
* [ Eternal calendar with special days of most english speaking countries]

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