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Public Holidays in the US

The only public holidays observed nationwide are federal holidays, officially established by the US administration. They often mark a specific event in the history of the United States. New Year’s Day and Christmas Day are the only exceptions to this rule.

On federal holidays, schools, banks and most businesses are usually closed. However, keep in mind that this is not the case on every holiday: ask your employer or the staff at your kid’s school if you are not sure. Most federal holidays are therefore scheduled for a Monday or Friday to ensure a long weekend.

Federal Holidays

Below, we list the nine federal holidays that are observed in all 50 states. However, there is an additional holiday: Inauguration Day, on which the new term of the US president commences, is celebrated every four years.

The holiday calendar also has two further notable days, namely Flag Day and Columbus Day. The former, while still widely celebrated as the day the flag of the US was originally adopted, failed to become a federal holiday. Instead it led to Flag Week (the week of June 14th), on which citizens are expected to fly the flag from their homes. Government institutions do likewise.

The latter, Columbus Day (the second Monday in October), is the only federal holiday not to be observed by all states. Some states, such as Oregon, do not observe the day at all, while others have established alternative holidays on the same day in lieu of celebrating what is criticized as a holiday commemorating imperialism and conquest. Examples include Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota and Indigenous People’s Day in California.

It should be noted that not all public holidays come with large celebrations. Some of them merely give you the chance of having a day off from work and spend some time with family and friends.

Other Public Holidays

In the US, the individual states have the right to establish their own public holidays that are not observed by the federal government. These include, for example, holidays honoring the traditions of an ethnic or cultural group, notable members of the community, or certain days of religious significance. To find out which public holidays are observed in your state of residence, check with the website of its respective state government. For a full list of all state government websites, please see usa.gov.

Some selected examples:

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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