Let’s start off simple, shall we? Federal holidays, aka government-sanctioned holidays are holidays that are observed by the government and are days on which they authorize the closure of federal offices (for usually no longer than a day), while still making sure that federal employees receive pay.
But what exactly designates a holiday as federal?
Congress has been granted to establish 11 permanent ‘National Holidays.’
- Friday, January 1: New Year’s Day
- Monday, January 18: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Monday, February 15 *: Washington’s Birthday
- Monday, May 30: Memorial Day
- Monday, July 4: Independence Day
- Monday, September 5: Labor Day
- Monday, October 10: Columbus Day
- Friday, November 11: Veterans Day
- Thursday, November 24: Thanksgiving Day
- Monday, December 26 **: Christmas Day
Originally, New Year’s Day, George Washington’s Birthday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day were designated as federal holidays back in the 1870s.
The reason for those particular days being chosen was because the acting attorney general James C. McReynolds said these practices “must have been known to the Congress, and it must have been that those days were declared public holidays only by laws applicable to the District.” Basically, to designate all days made holidays by any law in effect within the District of Columbia.
Fast forwarding to modern day times, this strikes up quite a bit of controversy due to other religions and the lack of federal equality for their holidays, however, we will save that for a rainy day.
What Makes Christmas Eve A Federal Holiday?
Back in the early ages of the 17th century, Christmas wasn’t even considered a holiday yet, it was disorderly. The Puritans wanted to rid England of corruption. So in their attempt at a last-ditch effort, they personified the spirit of The Grinch and canceled Christmas.
It was not until the 19th century that they decided to give the concept of Christmas another go. Except it was re-invented for peace, tranquility, and a time to be with friends and family. It brought many different families of social statuses together. The holiday was intended to be warmhearted, not destructive as it once was.
Christmas took flight after that, families started to decorate, children read books, magazines would not stop printing. The press coverage and the overall atmosphere of the holiday were globally encouraged. That’s when President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday on June 24, 1870.
So you see federal holidays shall be holidays within the District of Columbia, and that’s exactly what Christmas fought to become! A day of peace, nostalgia, and a time when everyone comes together regardless of race, gender, or social stability. It does not matter who or what you are, all that matters is if you are a good enough person to see through differences and accept people as they come. That is the true meaning of Christmas.
Hopefully you enjoyed this little history lesson. I encourage you to always read up on different cultures and customs, you never really know the interest that lies behind holidays.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone!