Mark your 2024 calendars for the official federal and national holidays impacting government offices, schools, banks, post offices, and more. The year 2024 brings 12 government-observed holidays, including all the major national celebrations like New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In addition to the set holidays, there are a couple extra special dates to note – presidential inauguration always occurs in January following an election year, and next leap day happens on February 29, 2024.
Understanding the national holiday schedule for 2024 allows for planning travel, long weekends, and time off work or school around these important communal observances. The holidays provide opportunities to connect with family and friends by honoring our shared heritage, history, and values as a nation. This article provides the key details on each 2024 holiday including what’s celebrated, who has the day off, and interesting facts. Let’s look at the holidays coming up to appreciate and enjoy in 2024.
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What Is The Meaning Of Federal Holidays?
Federal holidays are designated days of commemoration or celebration established by U.S. federal law that honor a historic person or event. On these national holidays, non-essential federal government offices, agencies, and institutions are closed including federal courts, post offices, and national parks. All federal employees are paid for federal holidays and most get the day off with the exception of some essential personnel.
Many private-sector businesses like financial institutions and schools also close on federal holidays. These are shared holidays when much of the nation pauses to reflect, celebrate, or remember together. Federal law establishes annual holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which honor cultural or religious traditions. Other holidays memorialize important people or historic events central to America’s founding and ongoing progress like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Independence Day. Occurring on Mondays, federal holidays create three-day weekends which many Americans use for gathering with family, traveling, or enjoying leisure time. Federal holidays bind the nation through commemorating its history, values, and shared identity.
US Federal Holidays 2024
|Monday||January 1||New Year’s Day||Federal||Celebration of the beginning of the new year.|
|Monday||January 15||Martin Luther King Jr. Day||Federal||Commemorates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to civil rights.|
|Monday||February 19||Presidents’ Day||Federal||Honors all U.S. presidents, especially George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.|
|Monday||May 27||Memorial Day||Federal||Remembrance of those who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces.|
|Thursday||July 4||Independence Day||Federal||Celebration of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776.|
|Monday||September 2||Labor Day||Federal||Honors the American labor movement and its contributions to the development of the country.|
|Monday||October 14||Columbus Day||Federal||Commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492.|
|Monday||November 11||Veterans Day||Federal||Recognition of all military veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces.|
|Thursday||November 28||Thanksgiving Day||Federal||Day of giving thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year.|
|Wednesday||December 25||Christmas Day||Federal||Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.|
|Wednesday||June 19||Juneteenth||Federal||Commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the U.S.|
What Is The Meaning Of National Holidays?
National holidays are days of observance and celebration designated by the federal government that honor important aspects of American culture, heritage, values, or history. Most national holidays originated as federal holidays, which apply to federal employees and agencies. Over time, many federal holidays came to be more widely honored and celebrated across the country by state and local governments, schools, businesses, and the public.
For example, the federal holidays of Christmas and Thanksgiving have evolved into holidays observed nationwide. Other holidays celebrating historical figures or events central to America’s founding and progress like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Independence Day are commemorated at national scale. National holidays serve to unite Americans through shared reflection and celebration of people, events, traditions, and values that represent the nation’s principles and culture.
They foster a sense of national identity and community by providing touchpoints throughout the year when Americans across the country take part in remembrance, education, family gatherings, cultural traditions, travel and leisure. Whether honoring influential leaders, remembering fallen soldiers, or marking historical milestones, national holidays affirm values of liberty, democracy, equality, and opportunity.
What Happens When A Federal Holiday Falls On A Weekend?
When an established federal holiday happens to land on a Saturday or Sunday, this impacts when and how the holiday is observed. The nuances stem from the fact that federal holidays were originally intended to apply just to federal employees and agencies, for whom weekends were normal work days.
For employees, when a holiday falls on a non-workday like Saturday or Sunday, the holiday is typically observed on the nearest workday – Friday for a Saturday holiday, and Monday for a Sunday holiday. So the actual holiday date may differ from the observed holiday. However, for federal agencies and institutions like courts, post offices, or national parks, they close on the actual holiday date regardless of it being a weekend. Some federal employees required to work on weekends will receive holiday pay.
Meanwhile, at the state level it varies – some states follow the federal observed holiday while others observe the actual date. Many private businesses and schools take cues on scheduling from the federal observance. So there can be variations in which day is treated as the holiday depending on whether the actual date or observed date is followed. The bottom line is that long weekends can result when the calendar aligns to allow back-to-back holiday observances on Friday-Monday.
The Meaning of Federal Holidays & Special Occasions in the United States
New Year’s Day (January 1)
New Year’s Day marks the beginning of a new calendar year. Celebrated universally across the globe, it’s a day filled with hope, resolutions, and reflections. In many cultures, there are traditions and festivities that go hand-in-hand with ringing in the new year, ranging from fireworks to special meals. In the U.S., the holiday is also characterized by the famous “ball drop” in New York City’s Times Square. This day signifies a fresh start and offers an opportunity for people to look forward to the possibilities of what the new year might bring.
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday of January)
This day is dedicated to honoring the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the influential American civil rights leader. He is best remembered for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. The day is seen as an opportunity to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Many take this day to participate in service activities as a way to honor Dr. King’s commitment to change through service to others.
Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday of February)
Commonly referred to as “Presidents’ Day”, this holiday originally honored the birthday of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Today, it serves as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present. Many Americans take the opportunity to reflect on the nation’s history and the leadership that has shaped it. Retailers often hold special sales in commemoration, and educational institutions may host events or lessons centered around presidential history.
Memorial Day (Last Monday of May)
Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for those who have died in military service to the United States. Traditionally observed on the last Monday of May, the day was previously known as Decoration Day, originating after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. Today, Americans visit cemeteries and memorials to honor and mourn the loss, with many volunteers placing American flags on graves. It’s also seen as the unofficial start of summer, with many holding barbecues, picnics, and family gatherings.
Independence Day (July 4)
Often referred to as the Fourth of July, Independence Day marks the founding of the United States of America in 1776. It celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the country’s freedom from British rule. Across the nation, festivities abound with fireworks, parades, barbecues, and patriotic displays of red, white, and blue. It’s a day that unites Americans in celebration of their shared history and democratic values.
Labor Day (First Monday of September)
Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. Stemming from the labor union movement’s push for better working conditions and reasonable hours, the day is a tribute to the resilience and determination of the working class. For many Americans, it also signifies the end of summer, often celebrated with picnics, parades, and other leisurely activities.
Columbus Day (Second Monday of October)
Columbus Day commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. Seen by many as a celebration of Italian-American heritage, it’s a federal holiday in the U.S. However, the day is not without controversy due to the negative impacts of European colonization on indigenous populations. As a result, some states and cities have chosen to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead, focusing on Native American history and culture.
Veterans Day (November 11)
Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, both living and deceased, who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. Distinct from Memorial Day, which honors those who died in service, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. Parades, ceremonies, and moments of silence are common ways the day is observed, emphasizing the importance of their contributions and sacrifices.
Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday of November)
Thanksgiving is a day for Americans to gather with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings and harvest of the past year. Its origins trace back to the Pilgrims, who celebrated their first successful harvest in the New World in 1621 with a feast shared with the Wampanoag people. Today, the holiday is often marked with a feast including turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football games have also become integral parts of the celebration.
Christmas Day (December 25)
Christmas Day is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. However, in modern times, it has taken on a broader cultural significance, observed by both Christians and non-Christians around the world. Traditions include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, and sharing meals with family and friends. The holiday is also known for its festive music, colorful lights, and emphasis on peace and goodwill.
Juneteenth (June 19)
Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the U.S. It marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free—two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth celebrations often include parades, family gatherings, barbecues, and historical readings. It’s a time for reflection, education, and acknowledgment of African American culture and achievements.
Observance of Federal Holidays
Federal holidays in the United States serve as a time for citizens to commemorate certain events, honor specific individuals or groups, or reflect upon the nation’s values and history. These holidays often come with a break from work for federal employees and a closure of federal establishments, such as post offices.
Many federal holidays are observed with distinct customs and traditions. For instance, Independence Day on July 4th is celebrated with firework displays, barbecues, and parades throughout the country. Memorial Day, on the last Monday of May, sees many families visiting cemeteries and memorials to honor the fallen military personnel, while Labor Day, the first Monday of September, recognizes the contributions of the American workforce, typically marked by picnics and community events. Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day are other examples, with the former honoring military veterans through ceremonies and parades and the latter remembering Dr. King’s contributions to the civil rights movement with marches, speeches, and service projects.
Despite the federal recognition, how elaborately a holiday is celebrated can differ widely based on individual, community, or regional preferences. Some people might use these days as a quiet time for reflection, while others participate in large communal events. Schools often close on federal holidays, and teachers sometimes prepare lessons or activities related to the significance of the upcoming holiday.
Differences Between Federal and State Holiday Observances
Federal holidays are those designated by the U.S. government and are observed across all 50 states, although states are not mandated to observe them. State holidays, on the other hand, are determined by individual states and may not be recognized nationwide. These holidays can reflect specific events, people, or cultural aspects significant to that state.
For example, Texas celebrates Juneteenth, which marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas on June 19, 1865 – though it’s worth noting that Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. In Massachusetts and Maine, Patriots’ Day is observed to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Similarly, California has Cesar Chavez Day, celebrated in honor of the civil rights activist’s birthday and his commitment to social justice.
Another point of distinction is in the manner of celebration and observance. State holidays might be observed with events or traditions that are highly localized and resonate deeply with the residents of that state. Whereas a federal holiday might be commemorated with national media coverage, state holidays often gain more attention at a local or regional level. Additionally, while federal holidays often mean a day off for federal workers, state holidays typically imply a day off for state employees in that specific state.
Lastly, the implications for businesses vary. On federal holidays, many businesses, especially those with national operations, may close or have reduced hours. On state holidays, closures might only be seen within the specific state observing the holiday, while it remains business as usual in other states.
As 2024 approaches, it’s good to have clarity on the important federal and nationwide holidays impacting work schedules, school calendars, travel plans, and more. Throughout the year, these observances unite all Americans in celebration of shared history, values, and culture. We hope this overview gave you insight into the significance behind each 2024 holiday and key details on when it falls.
To help with planning for the year ahead, we’ve included a helpful calendar table listing all federal holidays plus additional notable dates like inauguration day and leap day. With this reference, you can start scheduling vacations, coordinating office closures, and anticipating long holiday weekends. Take time in 2024 to commemorate America’s journey, reflect on key figures and events, and connect with loved ones over these shared holidays that bring the nation together.
Do all states observe federal holidays?
While federal holidays are recognized across the U.S., individual states can choose whether or not to observe the holiday. For example, while Juneteenth is a federal holiday, not all states may give employees the day off.
Will mail be delivered on federal holidays in 2024?
No, the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not deliver mail on federal holidays. However, some package delivery services might operate on a limited schedule.
Which federal holiday was most recently added to the calendar?
Juneteenth, observed on June 19th, was the most recent addition, recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.
Are banks open on federal holidays?
Most banks in the U.S. are closed on federal holidays. However, some bank branches inside retail stores might remain open with limited hours.
Do private companies observe federal holidays?
Private companies are not required by law to observe federal holidays, although many do. The decision is often based on company policy, and some companies may offer holiday pay or time-and-a-half for employees working on federal holidays.
If a federal holiday falls on a weekend, when is it observed?
If a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, it’s typically observed on the preceding Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, it’s generally observed on the following Monday.
Are schools open on federal holidays?
Public schools are generally closed on federal holidays, but private schools can set their own schedules. It’s best to check with the specific institution for their holiday calendar.
Are federal employees compensated if they work on a federal holiday?
Yes, federal employees who work on a federal holiday typically receive holiday premium pay.