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Is Christmas Eve 2022 a federal holiday in the US?

The United States has grown its list of holidays over the decades, and when it comes to the festive time of year, every free day is a bonus.

The United States has grown its list of holidays over the decades, and when it comes to the festive time of year, every free day is a bonus.

Do you know how many federal holidays there are in the United States? Yes, you’re right, there are 11. Well done!

The United States Government officially recognises these 11 days - check out the formalities at 5 U.S.C. 6103 if you are that way inclined - and I’ll provide some further information on a selection of them below. Christmas Day does, of course, get included in this list, but Christmas Eve that precedes it does not. Let’s have a check on the federal eleven.

Tracking Santa this Christmas Eve

What are the US federal holidays?

  • 1. New Year’s Day - 1 January
  • 2. Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Third Monday of January
  • 3. Washington’s Birthday - Third Monday of February
  • 4. Memorial Day - Last Monday of May
  • 5. Juneteenth - 19 June
  • 6. Independence Day - 4 July
  • 7. Labor day - First Monday of September
  • 8. Columbus Day - Second Monday of October
  • 9. Veterans Day - 11 November
  • 10. Thanksgiving Day - Fourth Thursday of November
  • 11. Christmas Day - 25 December

Christmas Eve: it varies by state

So, ‘what does a federal day mean, anyway?’ I hear you ask. Well, in practice, all non-essential government employees are given these days off work and most governmental offices are closed down for the day in question. if a federal employee is regularly scheduled to work on a federal holiday, then they will receive paid time off. Those deemed ‘essential’, though, will receive premium pay for working, while military personnel are paid a fixed annual salary.

Individual states as well as private companies are free to choose if they observe the holiday or not. That said, most do!

Christmas Eve, 24 December, is a curious day in this regard, though. Depending on where you live, the norms around whether you work on this day or not will be different. Some will take part of the day off, while others will indeed treat it as a full holiday.

Christmas Eve is treated as a full state holiday in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. In Kansas, North Dakota, and Virginia it is normal to work only the morning. Maybe folks from there are just more efficient at getting prepared for the hectic day ahead!

Even with these regional changes, the retail and hospitality industries will most likely be kept open, taking advantage of the merriment of the season, as well as those people who remember at the last minute that they forgot to buy an aunt or nephew a gift.

Dreaming of a Christmas Tuesday

There is a further exception to consider with all this. If 25 December, Christmas Day to you and me, falls on a Tuesday the US president normally issues an executive order giving federal employees paid leave on the Monday before it. We smiled in 2018 when President Trump did this and other recent examples came in 2001 and 2007 with President George W. Bush.

The same happened in 2012 thanks to President Barack Obama and he also made many happy when in 2014, he gave federal employees the Friday off. It was the day after Christmas, also known as Boxing Day (why is it called that anyway?).

As you should know by the time of reading this, 2022 does not bring this joyous occasion to bear. Sorry!

US federal holidays: the newest addition

Mentioned in the list above is the federal holiday of Juneteenth. This was recognised legally in June of 2021, making it the most recent to be put in place.

It was introduced as a part of America’s racial reckoning and commemorates the day when the last African America slaves in the US were informed of their freedom in 1865.


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