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For constitutional reasons, the United States does not have national holidays in the same way most other nations do; i.e. days on which all businesses are closed by law and employees have a day off. Pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, the U.S. federal government only has constitutional jurisdiction to establish holidays for itself, for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for Washington, D.C.; otherwise, constitutional authority to create public holidays is a power reserved to the states. Most states also allow local jurisdictions to establish their own holidays. As a result, holidays are not governed at the federal level as each state has jurisdiction over its holidays. Although holidays are declared as official, the government, whether it be federal, state, or local, cannot dictate to businesses when they need to close.
There are eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual holidays, and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day). Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
All current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states. States are not obligated to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays but they are free to do as they prefer. Many states also have additional holidays that are not observed by the U.S. federal government.
|1||1-Jan||New Year's Day||Celebrates the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year.|
|2||Third Monday of January||Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.||Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929.|
|3||January 20 (every 4th year)||Inauguration Day||Inauguration of the President of the United States and other elected federal officials, in the year following every year divisible by four.|
|4||Third Monday of February||Washington's Birthday||Honors George Washington. Sometimes labeled as "Presidents Day" by other than the federal government, in recognition of other American presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln who was born on February 12. The legal name of the federal holiday is "Washington's Birthday". It was historically observed on February 22, prior to passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act by Congress.|
|5||Last Monday of May||Memorial Day||Also known as "Decoration Day," Memorial Day originated as a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in the American Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. It was historically observed on May 30, prior to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.|
|6||4-Jul||Independence Day||Celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Also known as the "Fourth of July".|
|7||First Monday of September||Labor Day||Celebrates the labor movement.|
|8||Second Monday of October||Columbus Day||Marks the arrival of Christopher Columbus who landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside Columbus Day in 1934 as a federal holiday at the behest of the Knights of Columbus. Historically observed on October 12, prior to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.|
|9||11-Nov||Veterans Day||Also known as "Armistice Day", and sometimes call "Remembrance Day", Veterans Day is the American name for the international holiday which commemorates the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. In the United States, the holiday honors all veterans of the United States Armed Forces, whether or not they served in a conflict.|
|10||Fourth Thursday of November||Thanksgiving Day||Thanksgiving Day celebrates the dinner shared by Native Americans and the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts.|
|11||25-Dec||Christmas Day||A worldwide holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Designated a federal holiday by Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870.|
Other Holidays Locally Observed
- Chinese New Year: Date fluctuates between late January and February. Celebrated by Asian Americans (including Chinese Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Cambodian Americans, and others).
- Indigenous Peoples Day (Berkeley, California): Celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day.
- International Women's Day (Berkeley, California): March 8.
- Malcolm X Day (Berkeley, California): May 19.
- Patriot's Day (Massachusetts and Maine): Third Monday in April. Commemorates the Revolutionary War and is the day of the Boston Marathon.
- Pioneer Day (Utah): July 24. Commemorates the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
- Rosa Parks Day (Ohio): February 4.
- Susan B. Anthony Day (Florida, Wisconsin, and West Virginia): February 15.
- Texas Independence Day (Texas).
Special Days Recognized by Presidential Proclamation
- January 16: Religious Freedom Day
- March 31: Cesar Chavez Day
- 1st Thursday in May: National Day of Prayer
- 2nd Sunday in May: Mother's Day
- 3rd Sunday in June: Father's Day
- August 26: Women's Equality Day
- October 24: United Nations Day
- November 9: World Freedom Day
- November 15: America Recycles Day
- December 1: World AIDS Day
- December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- December 7: National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
- December 10: Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week
Special Months Recognized by Presidential Proclamation
- January: Stalking Awareness Month
- January: Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
- February: Black History Month
- March: Women's History Month
- April: Cancer Control Month
- April: Prevent Child Abuse Month
- April: National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
- May: Older Americans Month
- May: Jewish American Heritage Month
- May: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- May: Mental Health Awareness Month
- May: National Foster Care Month
- June: Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
- June: National Oceans Month
- June: Black Music Month
- September: National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
- September: National Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
- September: National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
- September 15 - October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month
- October: Italian American Heritage and Culture Month
- October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- October: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- October: National Arts & Humanities Month
- October: National Disability Employment Awareness Month
- October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month
- October: National Energy Awareness Month
- November: National Hospice Month
- November: National Adoption Month
- November: National Family Caregivers Month
- November: National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
- November: National Diabetes Month
- November: National American Indian Heritage Month
- December: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
- December: National Critical Infrastructure Protection Month
Citizenship Test Questions and Answers
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
Edward Everett Hale
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