The Difference Between National Holidays, Federal Holidays and Complete Nonsense

April 15 is not a tax day this year — it’s April 18 — but it’s the first day of Passover, Good Friday, and National Spiral Glazed Ham Day . Most financial markets, including the New York Stock Exchange, will be closed during the day, but banks will be open and mail will be delivered. Most shops will be open, but many schools will be closed. It’s a public holiday in 10 states but not the other 40, and about 20% of American workers will get a day off. So what gives? Good Friday – a holiday or not?

How we define a holiday on a given day is actually more complicated than you might think. It involves the subtle interplay between the federal government, state governments, the private sector, and the collective unconscious of citizens.

Federal holidays, state holidays, municipal holidays and state holidays

When it comes to defining a holiday, things are easier for people living in autocratic countries. The leader declares October 8 to be “the glorious holiday of National Victory Day” and everything moves accordingly. However, here in the United States, our restless “freedom” makes matters worse.

We don’t have “national holidays” in the US, as no one is bound to follow the federal government’s example in these matters, so the most “official” holidays we have are federal holidays. These are the days when Congress and the president determine that people should take the day off. This is usually 11 years, with an additional year added every four years on the day of the president’s inauguration. But the federal government’s vacation power is limited to federal employees, contractors, and residents of Washington, DC. They can’t force the rest to squat.

Individual states are not required to observe federal holidays, but they usually do. They also often declare their own public holidays, sometimes even passing laws governing which businesses can be open on those days. Smaller governments may also organize municipal or local holidays.

Who decides whether you will work on public holidays?

Federal, state, and local governments can designate as many holidays as they want, but generally speaking, they do not dictate holiday schedules for private companies. Ultimately, business owners must determine whether private employees get a day off on any holiday. Perhaps to make things easier, employers tend to use the list of federal holidays as a template for their own schedules, although they often add non-holidays, such as Christmas Eve and the day after Thanksgiving, to the calendar, subtracting federal holidays, such as Columbus Day. and Veterans Day. Day. The crappiest employers in our country do not give paid days off on any holidays to employees, and, unfortunately, by and large they are not obliged to.

To sum up: there is no list of holidays that applies to all Americans, but there is a generally accepted set of dates when most employees in the private and public sectors can expect to take a vacation. These days (July 4, Christmas, etc.) are called “public holidays”.

What about religious holidays?

Religious holidays are another ball of wax, and they also get messy. While there are no official religious holidays in our secular country, private companies may be required to provide employees with holidays for religious reasons under certain conditions. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, businesses with more than 15 employees must make “reasonable accommodations” for employee religious observance. This may include weekends of religious holidays, provided that the absence of employees does not create “undue hardship” for employers. The specific details of how fixtures are made and what hardships are “unjustified” are ultimately determined by the judiciary and preoccupy many lawyers (with the exception of the holidays, of course).

But why is the New York Stock Exchange closed on Good Friday?

This brings us back to Good Friday and the New York Stock Exchange: The NYSE closes on Good Friday and no one knows why. There are theories : some say the lease on the building that originally housed the NYSE required the building to be closed on Good Friday and they simply kept it; some imagine a long-forgotten deal between Jewish and Christian merchants; Some believe that the panic of Good Friday 1907 so frightened the financial world that it is still being felt today. And some people just think that stock traders love three-day weekends. Ultimately, like all holidays in the private sector, this is because the owners of the NYSE want it.

The difference between holidays and celebrations

The two most celebrated days in the United States are Christmas and Thanksgiving, both federal holidays, but the third most celebrated day is Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day shares the top ten with Halloween, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day, all days that are celebrated more widely than Labor Day but that aren’t “holidays” in the strictest sense. Since these are not religious holidays or federal holidays, they are technically “holidays”. (although they are still colloquially referred to as “holidays”), and the reason you don’t have these days off is because no one convinced the mainstream religion or the federal, state, and local governments to declare it a holiday.

National Glazed Spiral Ham Day and Other Crazy Holidays

Have you ever seen a happy morning newscast where the hosts say things like, “Today is National Day, eat some ice cream. Are you excited, Megan? and wonder what they were talking about? They basically talk about nothing.

When it comes to non-religious, non-government holidays, this is the Wild West. Every day of the year is declared by someone to be a special holiday for something, from Child Inventor Day (January 17th) to World Juggling Day (June 18th). These days are often invented by corporate public relations companies to sell products (I’m looking at you, National Forgiveness Day, Charlie ), and although they sometimes have non-binding statements from some government body backing them, they are a far cry from the holiday that can be imagined. Nobody has a day off. Nobody is celebrating. Nobody cares. But people go on saying them anyway, sometimes to give the morning news anchors a talking point, and sometimes for the tiny chance they’ll understand.

The importance of special dates rises and falls with public interest: May Day was once widely celebrated in the US, as well as Flag Day and Arbor Day. On the other hand, Día de Muertos is becoming extremely popular, as is Star Wars Day.

Ultimately, holidays and celebrations only become “real” if they are cared for by many people, or the government or church gives them an official seal of approval. So who knows, maybe someday we’ll get together to celebrate National Glazed Spiral Ham Day.

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