Wondering why some businesses observe holidays that others don’t? It might surprise you to learn that the United States doesn’t actually celebrate any national holidays, allowing for flexibility in holiday observance. Instead, the U.S. government has federal holidays, which federal employees observe and states can also choose to observe.
The Big 10
The United States federal government honors 11 federal holidays, 10 of which occur annually:
- New Year's Day
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Washington's Birthday / President's Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving Day
The eleventh, Inauguration Day, usually occurs every four years on January 20th. States and jurisdictions widely celebrate these holidays, but observance is not required. They can also choose to change the dates of observance.
The Monday Rule
While the actual dates of some of the above holidays fall on a consistent day of the year, the United States has been following the Uniform Monday Holiday Act since 1971. Under this act, all holidays except New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated on a Monday. If one of the non-Monday holidays falls on a weekend day, it is observed on the previous Friday or following Monday.
States and jurisdictions also have the authority to observe other holidays. For example, 12 states officially celebrate Good Friday. It’s important to note that while Easter is observed as a flag day, businesses are not required to take a day off because it already falls on a Sunday. Some areas add the Monday after Easter, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, or other non-federal holidays to their list of days to celebrate.
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