US Holidays

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List of US Federal Holidays

Most of the ten U.S. federal holidays are also state holidays. A holiday that falls on a weekend is usually observed on the closest weekday (e.g. a holiday falling on a Saturday is observed on the preceding Friday, while a holiday falling on a Sunday is observed on the succeeding Monday). The official names came from the laws that define holidays for federal employees.

New Year's Day

Date: January 1, fixed

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.

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Date: January 15–21, third Monday of the month

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). The holiday is observed on the third Monday of January.

Washington's Birthday

Date: February 15–21, third Monday of the month

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.

Memorial Day

Date: May 25–31, last Monday of the month

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). The holiday is observed on the last Monday in May.

Independence Day

Date: July 4, fixed

Celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule, also called the Fourth of July. Fireworks celebrations are held in many cities throughout the nation.

Labor Day

Date: September 1–7, first Monday of the month

One 2012 survey of American adults found that 52% celebrate Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. A separate nationwide survey of human resource professionals, conducted in 2015, found 41% of employers require at least some employees to work on the holiday. The holiday is observed on the first Monday in September.

Columbus Day

Date: October 8–14, second Monday of the month

Honors Christopher Columbus, an explorer of the Americas. In some areas it is also a celebration of Indigenous Peoples, or Italian culture and heritage. (traditionally October 12) The holiday is observed on the second Monday in October.

Veterans Day

Date: November 11, fixed

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).

Thanksgiving Day

Date: November 22–28, fourth Thursday of the month

Traditionally celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. Traditionally includes the sharing of a turkey dinner. The holiday is observed on the fourth Thursday in November.

Christmas Day

Date: December 25, fixed

The most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Commonly celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike with various traditions.

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