Public holidays with paid time off are generally defined to occur on a day that is within the employee's work week. When a holiday occurs on Saturday or Sunday, that holiday is shifted to either Friday or Monday for work purposes. Most employers follow a holiday schedule similar to the federal holidays of the United States, with exceptions or additions. The federal holiday schedule mainly benefits employees of government and government regulated businesses, however, this sector only comprises 15% of the working population.
At the discretion of the employer, other non-federal holidays such as New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve and the Day after Thanksgiving are common additions to the list of paid holidays while Columbus Day and Veterans Day are common omissions. Besides paid holidays, there are festival and food holidays that also have wide acceptance based on sales of goods and services that are typically associated with that holiday. Halloween and Valentine's Day are examples of widely celebrated uncompensated holidays.
Public holidays had their origins from established federal holidays that were enacted by Congress. They were typically observed on days that have significance for various sectors of American society and are observed at all levels of society, including government and the private sector. These holidays are typically derived from the history, religions, and cultures of the United States and have changed over time. Major holidays are most commonly observed with paid time off, however, many other holiday celebrations come without time off.
There are no national holidays on which the law requires all businesses to close. Federal holidays are only established for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses, government contractors, and the city of Washington, DC. All other public holidays are created by the States; most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As a result, holidays have not historically been governed at the federal level and federal law does not govern business openings.
Some states, however, do restrict certain business activities on some holidays. Business closures are mandated on a few holidays in some states for certain kinds of businesses by blue laws. For example, businesses that operate on more than 5,000 square feet (460 m2) cannot open on Thanksgiving in some New England states. The most notable businesses to close on such occasions are car dealerships and liquor stores. Some holidays are observed with community service, depending on the meaning of the holiday. Service is, however, not mandated by any government agencies, whether they be federal, state, or local.
While all current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states, each state is not bound to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays. Many states also have additional holidays that are not observed by the federal government. Many businesses likewise observe certain holidays as well, which are also not mandated by any government agency.
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth. Celebrations are marked by decorations and exchanging of gifts between family members and friends. Most popular holiday based on greeting card sales. Also known for having the second highest church attendance. behind Easter. Widely celebrated as a secular holiday.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of thanks for the previous year, with families and friends gathering for a large meal or dinner. Consequently, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. One-sixth of the turkeys consumed annually in the U.S. are eaten around Thanksgiving.
Breakfasts in bed, family meals, gift-giving, flowers
Mother's Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society. Known for having the highest restaurant sales, even compared with Valentine's Day, as well as the highest church attendance after Easter and Christmas.
Independence Day, also commonly known as the Fourth of July, marks the date that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776. The holiday is best known for fireworks and barbecues. 45% of American celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks, accounting for about $675 million in fireworks sales.
Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It accounts for the highest sales of ties and neckwear annually, around $12.7 billion.
Halloween celebrations are marked by costumed children knocking door to door asking for treats, and costumed adults attending parties. The most popular holiday for candy sales, amounting to $2.6 billion in 2015. The same year, $6.9 billion was spent on candy, costumes, and pumpkins, all of which are directly attributed to this holiday.
Sending greeting cards, gift-giving, dating and romantic dinners, church services, candy, flowers
Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love. It accounts for 224 million roses grown annually. 24% of American adults purchased flowers for Valentine's Day in 2015. The holiday comes in second in terms of annual restaurant sales, behind Mother's Day.
Observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. Known for being the holiday with the highest alcohol consumption, evidenced by the spike in sales around between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
The labor force in the United States comprises about 62% (as of 2014) of the general population. In the United States, 97% of the private sector businesses determine what days this sector of the population gets paid time off, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management. The following holidays are observed by the majority of US businesses with paid time off:
Box of Valentine chocolates, typically sold around Valentine's Day
Religious and cultural holidays in the United States are characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. However, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." and Article VI specifies that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." As a result, various religious faiths have flourished, as well as perished, in the United States. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unique among developed nations.
The majority of Americans (73–80%) identify themselves as Christians and about 15–20% have no religious affiliation. According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) (2008) 76% of the American adult population identified themselves as Christians, with 51% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant or unaffiliated, and 25% professing Catholic beliefs. The same survey says that other religions (including, for example, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 4% of the adult population, another 15% of the adult population claim no religious affiliation, and 5.2% said they did not know, or they refused to reply. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew forum, 36 percent of Americans state that they attend services nearly every week or more.
Confederate Memorial Day is a public holiday observed by Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas and an unofficially observed holiday in some other states. It is often in late April to align with the final surrender of the last Confederate Army. Texas observes Confederate Heroes Day.
Confederate History Month has been declared at least once in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia as well as by various cities, usually in April to augment Confederate Memorial Day.
Robert E. Lee Day (on or around Lee's Jan. 19 birthday) is still observed in Alabama and Mississippi combined with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the only remaining states to do so. It is officially recognised in Florida, but is not widely observed there.
Arkansas combined the observance of Robert E. Lee Day with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1985. In 2017, it passed a law removing Lee's name from the January holiday and instead establishing a state memorial day on the second Saturday of October in honor of Lee.
Lee–Jackson Day is a holiday celebrated in Virginia for the birthdays of Robert E. Lee (Jan 19) and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (Jan 21) The original 1889 holiday celebrated Lee's birthday until Jackson's name was added to the holiday in 1904. The holiday is currently observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 86% of the population over 18 drinks alcohol recreationally or socially. In the United States, the holidays that are considered the most "festive" are generally regarded as some of the "most drunken holidays." Celebrations usually revolve around barbecues and beer. Although many of these holidays lack any official status, they are generally observed by the drinking culture for the fact that these holidays revolve around drinking. One measurement of the popularity of these holidays is the amount of alcohol purchased for the occasion. One survey names New Year's Eve as the holiday on which the most alcohol is consumed on the basis of sales. While many holidays are listed, some are generally notable for their drinking requirement while others are known for abstinence.
African Americans make up about 12% of the US population. While some customs have come from abroad, many of the customs were developed inside the United States. Kwanzaa, for example, is a custom has greatly influenced American culture originating from the "turbulent 60's" when race relations in the United States was at its lowest. Most of the newer holidays revolve around a particular civil rights activist and have recently gained attention from city and state level governments. At the federal level, only Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored.
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the Western African diaspora in the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–67.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the only federal holiday marking the birthday of an African American. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15.
Currently observed in the states of California, Missouri, and Ohio to honor the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks Day was created by the California State Legislature and first celebrated February 4, 2000. The holiday was first designated in Ohio championed by Joyce Beatty, advocate who helped Ohio's legislation pass to honor the late leader. In 2015, Missouri has declared Rosa Parks Day a legal holiday.
Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.
With 73% of the US population identifying themselves as Christian, many holidays from the liturgical calendar are observed by this segment of the population. With 94% of businesses including federal, state, and local governments closing on Christmas, arguably the most significant holiday of the Christian religion, many stores are also closed on Christmas, but with a relatively small exception. For example, convenience stores operating on less than 5,000 square feet of space such as 7-Eleven and CVS Pharmacy can remain open. A reference in A Christmas Story shows a Chinese restaurant being the only establishment open on Christmas.
Some private businesses and certain other institutions are closed on Good Friday. The financial market and stock market is closed on Good Friday. Most retail stores remain open although some might close early. Public schools and most universities are closed on Good Friday, either as a holiday of its own, or part of spring break. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.
Many companies, including banks, malls, shopping centers and most private retail stores that normally open on Sundays are closed on Easter.
Epiphany (from Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation"), falls on the 12th day after Christmas. It commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the miracle of the wine at the marriage feast at Cana. One of the three major Christian festivals, along with Christmas and Easter. Epiphany originally marked the beginning of the carnival season preceding Lent, and the evening preceding it is known as Twelfth Night.
St. Valentine's Day, or simply Valentine's Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. Modern traditional celebration of love and romance, including the exchange of cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts.
March 15 – April 18 (floating Sunday using Computus)
A holiday honoring Saint Patrick that celebrates Irish culture. Primary activity is simply the wearing of green clothing ("wearing o' the green"), although drinking beer dyed green is also popular. Big parades in some cities, such as in Chicago, where there is also a tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green.
March 20 – April 23 (floating Friday using Computus)
Many Americans decorate hard-boiled eggs and give baskets of candy, fruit, toys and so on, especially to children; but gifts of age-appropriate Easter baskets for the elderly, the infirm and the needy are increasingly popular. An annual Easter Egg Roll has been held at the White House South Lawn for young children on Easter Monday since President Hayes started the tradition in 1878. Not a federal holiday due to the fact that it always falls on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. Many companies that are normally open on Sunday close for Easter.
Originally the end of the Celtic year, it now celebrates Eve of All Saint's Day. Decorations include jack o'lanterns. Costume parties and candy such as candy corn are also part of the holiday. Kids go "trick-or-treating" to neighbors who give away candy. It is not generally observed by businesses, and is one of the most popular holidays in the US.
Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that the Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin from her moment of conception. Companies in some states will give day off to their employees.
Rangoli decorations, made using colored powder, are popular during Diwali.
According to some sources, the Hindu holidays of Diwali and Holi are commonly celebrated as a "mainstream" holiday throughout the United States, not only by Indian Americans or peoples of Indian descent. Many firms that hire people from India will even go as far as observing the holidays with a celebration within the company or even approving it as a paid day off. Holi, the "festival of colors" has inspired a Broadway musical based on this festival. New York City Council has voted on a resolution that may make Diwali and Holi a legal holiday in Resolution 1863–2013. As of August 2013, the resolution has passed and the holidays are now officially legal holidays in New York City. CNN reported that the Diwali holiday is shown in American pop culture through an episode of The Office.
Holi (English: /ˈhoʊliː/) (Sanskrit: होली) is a spring festival also known as Festival of Colors, and sometimes Festival of Love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities.
Diwali (English: /dɪˈwɑːliː/ or English: /dɪˈvɑːliː/) also called the Festival of lights", is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
A seven- or eight-day festival in Judaism (seven days in Israel, eight outside of Israel), commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. For Karaite Jews, Passover is the holiest day of the year and is the festival that marks the beginning of the year. Some Christian groups celebrate Passover instead of Easter. In many regions with large Jewish communities, schools close for all or part of Passover.
A two-day (one in Israel) festival celebrating the receiving of the Torah at Sinai and the harvest season of the Land of Israel. Many people have the custom to eat dairy foods, specifically cheesecake.
Observed by Jewish people. Traditional beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. It also celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Rosh Hashanah. It is a widely accepted custom to dip an apple in honey on the first night. Unlike other holidays where the Diaspora (outside of Israel) celebrate extra days, this holiday is observed for two days everywhere.
This day marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is described in Leviticus as a "Sabbath of rest," and synagogue services begin the preceding sundown, resume the following morning, and continue to sundown. Orthodox and many Conservative Jews fast on Yom Kippur. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Yom Kippur.
A nine-day (eight in Israel) holiday celebrating the huts Jews lived in for forty years after the Exodus before getting to Israel. It also celebrates the cloud of glory that protected the Jews in the desert during the same period. Jews eat, and some sleep, in a special hut called a sukkah outside their home for the first seven days. Also, the 'four species' or 'Arba Minim', ארבע מינים, the Lulav לולב or Palm Fran, the Etrog אתרוג or citron, the Aravot ערבות or willow branch, and the Hadasim הדסים, are shaken in the sukkah in the morning, as well as during prayers. The Seventh Day, known as Hoshanah Rabbah הושנה רבה is the last day of the season of repentance started on Rosh Hashanah, and has extra prayers in addition to the extra holiday prayers. The Eighth day is known as Shemini Atzeret שמיני עצרת and is to some degree considered a different holiday. The ninth day (or part of the eighth in Israel) is known as Simchat Torah שמחת תורה and celebrates he finishing of one cycle of reading the Torah or bible, and includes much joyous singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls during prayers.
An eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. Candelabras are lit, one candle on the first night and adding one candle per night. It is also a widely accepted custom to spin a top-like toy called a dreidel, and to give coins to the children.
A one-day holiday, celebrated the Jews being saved from a plot by Haman, the second-in-command to Persian king, Achasverosh, or Xerxes, to exterminate every single Jew. It is generally celebrated by reading the Book of Esther in Synagogue the preceding night (which, like all Jewish holidays, is actually part of the holiday) and in the morning, giving charity, giving presents of food baskets to at least two friends, and having a celebratory feast. Unlike most other Jewish holidays (other than Hannukah), work is allowed including using electricity, and other prohibited actions on Sabbath, and other holidays. The day before (or the Thursday before, if Purim is on a Sunday) is a fast day commemorating the fast of Esther before she met with King Achashverosh. In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated the day after the rest of the world.
Eid al-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر ʻĪd al-Fiṭr, IPA: [ʕiːd al fitˤr], "festival of breaking of the fast"), also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram (Bajram), the Sweet Festival and the Lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The religious Eid is a single day and Muslims are not permitted to fast on that day. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. This is a day when Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. However, in most countries, it is generally celebrated on the same day as Saudi Arabia(lunar calendar).
In addition to the federal/national holidays, many religious, ethnic, and other traditional holidays populate the calendar, as well as observances proclaimed by officials and lighter celebrations. These are rarely observed by businesses as holidays (Except for Easter and most often also on Good Friday); indeed, many are viewed as opportunities for commercial promotion. Because of this commercialization, some critics apply the deprecatory term Hallmark holiday to such days, after the Hallmarkgreeting card company.
A day that people commonly play tricks or jokes on family, friends, and co-workers, especially in English-speaking nations. Sometimes called "the Feast of All Fools" as a play on the feast days of saints; there is no evidence the holiday has any Christian religious origins.
In most other countries, May 1 is International Workers' Day, the equivalent of Labor Day, which commemorates the labor movement and the ultimate triumph of socialism over capitalism. This theme borrows from the pagan origins of May Day which emphasized the change in season and the triumph of the warm sun over the cold winter. The holiday is often celebrated with parades and protests for workers' rights and other broad social issues.
Primarily a celebration of Mexican culture by Mexican-Americans living in the United States. Although this is the anniversary of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, Cinco de Mayo is far more important in the US than in Mexico itself, often celebrated even by non-Mexican-Americans. Additionally, this "holiday" is often mistaken by Americans as being Mexican Independence Day, which is actually observed on September 16.
Traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. "Black Friday" is not a holiday under that name, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees. Virtually all schools, colleges, and universities are also closed, along with many non-retail private sector businesses. Federal government offices, post offices and federally chartered banks must open on Black Friday (unless the President issues an executive order or proclamation allowing them to close).
Final Day of the Gregorian year. Usually accompanied by much celebration, such as party and fireworks. Virtually every company and retail outlet closes early, except for stores that sell alcoholic beverages and party supplies.
^Newport, Frank (2008). "In the U.S., Christmas Not Just for Christians". Gallup. Retrieved November 20, 2016. Despite the fact that only a little more than 80% of Americans identify with a Christian faith, 93% of those interviewed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll indicate that they celebrate Christmas.
^Carlson, Darren K. (2001). "Americans Celebrate the Fourth of July". Gallup. Retrieved November 16, 2016. Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78%) say they will attend a picnic or barbecue, the most popular Fourth of July activity among those tested. Most Americans, 76%, will celebrate with family. Other common activities include displaying an American flag (66%) and attending fireworks displays (63%).
^"Total Halloween Spending Set to Dip This Year". MarketingCharts. 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2016. Almost two-thirds (64%) of American adults plan to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, reports the NRF in a recent study.
^Soergel, Andrew (2015). "Valentine's Day Spending to Approach $19 Billion". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 30, 2016. More than half (54.9 percent) of Americans at least 18 years old said they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, though the percentage of those who recognize the holiday drops off after the age of 44, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation.
^Yudit Greenberg, Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions, Volume 1, ISBN978-1851099801, p. 212
^The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) ISBN019861263X – p. 874 "Holi /'həʊli:/ noun a Hindu spring festival ...".
^Ebeling, Karin (2010), Holi, an Indian Festival, and its Reflection in English Media; Die Ordnung des Standard und die Differenzierung der Diskurse: Akten des 41. Linguistischen Kolloquiums in Mannheim 2006, 1, 107, ISBN978-3631599174
^The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) ISBN019861263X – p. 540 "Diwali /dɪwɑːli/ (also Divali) noun a Hindu festival with lights...".
(federal) = federal holidays, (state) = state holidays, (religious) = religious holidays, (week) = weeklong holidays, (month) = monthlong holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies Bold indicates major holidays commonly celebrated in the United States, which often represent the major celebrations of the month.