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Table of US Federal Holidays

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day January 1
Martin Luther King’s Birthday 3rd Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday 3rd Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Juneteenth National Independence Day June 19
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Veterans’ Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25

Overview of U.S. Federal Holidays

U.S. Federal Holidays are designated by the United States Congress and recognized nationwide. These holidays are observed across all federal government entities, including government offices, courts, and public schools, and many private businesses also follow suit in recognition of these significant days. Federal holidays are often rooted in historical events, significant figures, or cultural commemorations that reflect the national heritage and values of the United States.

What Constitutes a U.S. Federal Holiday?

A Federal Holiday is officially established by the laws enacted by Congress of the United States. Typically, when a law is enacted declaring a specific date to be observed annually as a federal holiday, it becomes a day set aside by the nation to celebrate or commemorate a significant national matter. These holidays also provide a moment of reflection and give time off to federal employees, and many private sector employees as well. Currently, there are ten annual U.S. Federal Holidays, and sometimes one-time observances are declared by the President.

Impact on Businesses and Public Services

Business Operations:

Many businesses close on federal holidays, though this is not a legal requirement. In the private sector, whether a business closes or remains open is often determined by the industry type or the discretion of business owners. Retail businesses, for example, may remain open and often hold special sales events during holidays like Presidents’ Day or Labor Day. On the other hand, professional services, such as banking and corporate offices, usually close. For a list of all US Bank Holidays click here.

Public Services:

Federal holidays have a pronounced effect on public services. For instance:

  • Postal Services: The United States Postal Service (USPS) does not operate on federal holidays. All post offices are closed, and no regular mail delivery occurs. However, self-service options such as postage machines are still available in some locations.
  • Government Operations: All non-essential federal government offices are closed on federal holidays. This includes most administrative offices and services, although essential services such as national security and public safety continue to operate.
  • Transport and Infrastructure: Public transportation may run on a reduced schedule during federal holidays. This can include local transit buses, subways, and commuter trains depending on the area.

Financial Markets:

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and other major financial markets in the U.S. are closed on most federal holidays. This closure affects financial transactions globally due to the significant role of U.S. markets in the world economy.


Most public schools are closed on federal holidays, although this may vary depending on the district and state policies. Some private educational institutions may opt to remain open or use the day for staff development workshops.

Legal Obligations:

It is important for both businesses and public institutions to plan ahead for federal holidays, considering potential closures or service delays. Legal obligations such as deadlines may be moved to the next business day if they fall on a recognized holiday.

Short History of U.S. Federal Holidays

New Year’s Day (January 1)

Origins and Significance: New Year’s Day is one of the world’s oldest holidays, dating back to ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. Traditionally, it marks the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. Celebrating the New Year has long been a time for renewal and reflection, looking back at the past year and making resolutions for the future.

Observances Across the Country: In the United States, New Year’s Day is celebrated with various festivities including parades, fireworks, and family gatherings. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, hosts a famous parade and college football game, drawing visitors from all over the country. It’s a public holiday in all states, and many Americans use the day to recover from the New Year’s Eve celebrations the night before.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)

History of the Civil Rights Movement: This day honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a forefront leader in the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. His nonviolent approach to addressing racial inequality and injustice in American society was revolutionary.

Impact and Legacy: Dr. King’s efforts culminated in significant legislative changes including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The day is marked by remembrance and educational programs that highlight racial equality and social justice, reflecting on his message of peace and equality.

Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday in February, often called Presidents' Day)

Historical Significance: Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22, his actual day of birth, the holiday honors Washington’s legacy as the first President of the United States.

Evolution into Presidents’ Day: Today, many Americans recognize this day as Presidents’ Day, celebrating not only Washington but also all past presidents. It has become a day for patriotic celebration and shopping events.

Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)

Commemoration: Memorial Day began after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. Today, it honors all Americans who have died in military service.

Traditions and Ceremonies: Ceremonies typically include laying wreaths at cemeteries, parades, and moments of silence. The most solemn ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery, where the President or Vice-President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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Holiday 2024 2025 2026 2027
New Year's Day January 1 January 1 January 1 January 1
Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. January 15 January 20*** January 19 January 18
Washington's Birthday (Presidents Day) February 19 February 17 February 16 February 15
Memorial Day May 27 May 26 May 25 May 31
Juneteenth National Independence Day June 19 June 19 June 19 June 19*
Independence Day July 4 July 4 July 4* July 4**
Labor Day September 2 September 1 September 7 September 6
Columbus Day October 14 October 13 October 12 October 11
Veterans Day November 11 November 11 November 11 November 11
Thanksgiving Day November 28 November 27 November 26 November 25
Christmas Day December 25 December 25 December 25 December 25*

*On Saturdays, July 3, 2026, June 18, 2027, and December 24, 2027, the Federal Reserve Banks are open, but the Board of Governors is closed.

**On Sunday, July 5, 2027, both the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors are closed.

***On January 20, 2025, the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors are closed in observance of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Inauguration Day.

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Short History of U.S. Federal Holidays Cont...

Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19)

History and Importance: Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people in Texas were informed of their freedom, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It is considered the longest-running African American holiday and has been celebrated annually in various parts of the United States.

Federal Recognition: In 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday, underscoring its importance as a symbol of the end to slavery in the United States and a celebration of freedom and equality.

Independence Day (July 4)

Historical Context: July 4, 1776, marks the historic date when the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from British rule. The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, is read at many events to recall the nation’s founding principles.

Traditions: Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, and baseball games. Major displays like the fireworks over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., are nationally famous.

Labor Day (First Monday in September)

Origins: Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. It celebrates the economic and social achievements of American workers.

Celebration of Workers: The day often involves public parades, picnics, and sports activities, serving as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.

Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)

Historical Perspective: Columbus Day commemorates Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Americas on October 12, 1492. This day has been celebrated in various forms since at least the late 18th century.

Observance Variability: The celebration of Columbus Day is controversial. Many states have replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day, acknowledging the impact of colonialism on native communities across the Americas.

Not So Short History of U.S. Federal Holidays Cont...

Veterans Day (November 11)

Significance: Originally known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, Veterans Day now honors all U.S. military veterans. Unlike Memorial Day, which remembers those who died while serving, Veterans Day celebrates all U.S. military veterans, living or deceased.

Observance: It is marked by parades, church services, and in many places, the American flag is hung at half-mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11 am.

Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)

Historical Roots: Traditionally celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year, Thanksgiving’s origins are often traced back to a 1621 feast shared by the English Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Colony.

Modern Celebrations: It is characterized by a day of feasting, the company of family and friends, and Thanksgiving parades. The most famous parade is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Christmas Day (December 25)

Origins: Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

National Observances: In the U.S., Christmas traditions include decorating trees, hanging stockings, Santa Claus visiting children, and exchanging gifts. Family gatherings and meals are also a central feature of the holiday.

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Frequently Asked Questions About U.S. Federal Holidays

What are U.S. Federal Holidays?

U.S. Federal Holidays are days set aside by the federal government for public observance. All non-essential federal government offices are closed on these days, and federal employees are paid for the holiday.

How many Federal Holidays are there?

There are eleven annual U.S. Federal Holidays. Additionally, special one-time holidays may be declared by the President or Congress.

Who decides what days are Federal Holidays?

The United States Congress has the authority to create federal holidays. Most recently, Juneteenth National Independence Day was established as a federal holiday in 2021.

Are all businesses required to close on Federal Holidays?

No, private businesses are not required to close on federal holidays. Many retail businesses remain open and may hold sales events, while professional offices such as banks typically close.

Do Federal Holidays affect mail delivery?

Yes, the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not deliver regular mail on federal holidays, although other package delivery companies might operate.

What happens if a Federal Holiday falls on a weekend?

If a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, it is usually observed on the preceding Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, it is observed on the following Monday.

Are Federal Holidays the same in every state?

While federal holidays are nationally recognized, states can observe holidays that are not recognized at the federal level. Additionally, state and local government offices, including public schools and courts, might close on state holidays.

How are Federal Holidays different from National Observances?

Federal holidays entail a closure of federal offices and employees are paid for the time off. National observances are days that recognize a specific cause or group, like National Nurses Day or Earth Day, without associated closures.

What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who have died while in military service.

Can an employee be required to work on a Federal Holiday?

Yes, private employers can require employees to work on federal holidays. However, federal government employees are typically off on these days unless they are in essential services.

Do Federal Holidays provide paid leave for private sector employees?

There is no federal statutory requirement that private sector employees receive paid leave for federal holidays. Private businesses can choose to provide paid holidays or not.

How do Federal Holidays impact financial markets?

The New York Stock Exchange and most other financial markets in the United States are closed on most federal holidays, affecting global financial transactions.

Are there cultural or religious observances also considered Federal Holidays?

No, federal holidays are secular; religious holidays like Easter and Yom Kippur are not federal holidays but are widely observed across the country by various communities.

Disclaimer: The content provided on this webpage is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. While we strive to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information presented here, the details may change over time or vary in different jurisdictions. Therefore, we do not guarantee the completeness, reliability, or absolute accuracy of this information. The information on this page should not be used as a basis for making legal, financial, or any other key decisions. We strongly advise consulting with a qualified professional or expert in the relevant field for specific advice, guidance, or services. By using this webpage, you acknowledge that the information is offered “as is” and that we are not liable for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in the content, nor for any actions taken based on the information provided. We shall not be held liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or punitive damages arising out of your access to, use of, or reliance on any content on this page.

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