US Federal Holidays: Public holidays In United States

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There are eleven annual U.S. federal holidays on the calendar designated by the United States Congress. Unlike many other countries, there are no “national holidays” in the United States because Congress only has constitutional authority to create holidays for federal institutions. Most federal holidays are also observed as state holidays.

Federal Holidays In United States

  1. New Year’s Day – January 1
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Third Monday in January
  3. Washington’s Birthday (Presidents’ Day) – Third Monday in February
  4. Memorial Day – Last Monday in May
  5. Independence Day – July 4
  6. Labor Day – First Monday in September
  7. Columbus Day – Second Monday in October
  8. Veterans Day – November 11
  9. Thanksgiving Day – Fourth Thursday in November
  10. Christmas Day – December 25

Full List of Holidays In US

DateDayHoliday Name
January 01SaturdayNew Year’s Day
January 03MondayNew Year’s Day (in lieu)
January 17MondayMartin Luther King Jr Day
February 21MondayPresident’s Day or Washington’s Birthday
April 17SundayEaster Sunday
May 08SundayMother’s Day
May 30MondayUS Memorial Day
June 17FridayJuneteenth
June 19SundayJuneteenth
June 19SundayFather’s Day
June 20MondayJuneteenth (in lieu)
July 04MondayIndependence Day
September 05MondayUS Labor Day
October 10MondayUS Indigenous People’s Day
October 10MondayColumbus Day
November 11FridayVeterans Day
November 24ThursdayThanksgiving Day Celebration
November 25FridayThe Day After Thanksgiving Day
December 25SundayChristmas Day
December 26MondayChristmas Day (in lieu)

History of public holidays in U.S

Congress is tasked with establishing public holidays. The first holidays passed into law were New Year’s, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Initially, only federal employees working in the District of Columbia were able to take advantage of the holidays, but later the law was expanded to all federal workers.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Congress had also added George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

After World War I, Congress established Veterans Day.

With many public holidays falling on different dates each year, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in the late 1960s, which mandated that most holidays fall on the Monday of a specific week each year. This bill also established Columbus Day.

Under President Regan, Congress added MLK Day to the list and the move was opposed by Senate icon John McCain. A few years later, McCain said that he was wrong and supported his home state of Arizona in establishing their own holiday to celebrate the civil rights leader.

Juneteenth is the latest holiday to be approved by Congress. The vote to officially elevate the holiday took place in June 2021. The measure was unanimously approved by the Senate. Before becoming the latest public holiday, it was celebrated in almost every US state.