People in every culture celebrate holidays. Although the word "holiday" literally means "holy day," most American holidays are not religious, but commemorative in nature and origin. Because the nation is blessed with rich ethnic heritage it is possible to trace some of the American holidays to diverse cultural sources and traditions, but all holidays have taken on a distinctively American flavour. In the United States, the word "holiday" is synonymous with "celebration".
In the strict sense, there are no federal (national) holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its holidays. In practice, however, most states observe the federal ("legal or public ") holidays, even though the President and Congress can legally designate holidays only for federal government employees.
The following holidays per year are proclaimed by the federal government.
New Year's Day January, 1
Martin Luther King Day third Monday in January
Presidents' Day third Monday in February
Memorial Day last Monday in May
Independence Day July, 4
Labour Day first Monday in September
Columbus Day second Monday in October
Veterans' Day November, 11
Thanksgiving Day fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day December, 25
In 1971, the dates of many federal holidays were officially moved to the nearest Monday by then-President Richard Nixon. There are four holidays which are not necessarily celebrated on Mondays: Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day. When New Year's Day, Independence Day, or Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, the next day is also a holiday. When one of these holidays falls on a Saturday, the previous day is also a holiday. Federal government offices, including the post office, are always closed on all federal holidays. Schools and businesses close on major holidays like Independence Day and Christmas Day but may not always be closed, for example, on Presidents' Day or Veterans' Day.
Federal holidays are observed according to the legislation of individual states. The dates of these holidays, and others, are decided upon by each state government, not by the federal (national) government. Each state can agree on the same date that the President has proclaimed, such as Thanksgiving Day. State legislation can also change the date of a holiday for its own special commemoration. Cities and towns can decide not to celebrate a federal legal holiday at all. However, the majority of the states (and the cities and towns within them) usually choose the date or day celebrated by the rest of the nation. There are other "legal" or "public" holidays which are observed at the state or local level. The closing of local government offices and businesses will vary. Whether citizens have the day off from work or not depends on local decisions.
There are other "legal" or "public" holidays which are observed at the state or local level. The closing of local government offices and businesses will vary. Whether citizens have the day off from work or not depends on local decisions. Some "legal" or "public" holidays are specific only to an individual state. For example, Nebraska always celebrates Arbor Day on April 22, the birthday of the originator of the holiday. Since Arbor Day originated as a treeplanting day, different states change the date depending on the best season for planting trees in their region: Hawaiians plant trees on the first Friday in November.
You can thumb through an ordinary calendar and discover many special days i.e. "minor holidays" which are observed by a relatively small number of people or by a particular interest group. For example, "Girl Scouts' Birthday" (March 12), "Citizenship Day" (September 17), "United Nations Day" (October 24) would have limited observance. "Hog Callers' Day" would have even less.