Imagine the pulse of your business syncing up with the nation’s heartbeat—a rhythm driven by US federal holidays.

These days are not just moments for pause and celebration, but powerful cogs in the commercial engine that can drive your strategies and sales.

At the core, we’re explorers of opportunity. As we stride through the calendar year, these public commemorations—think Independence DayLabor Day, or the reflective ambiance of Memorial Day—are more than just dates.

They encapsulate cultural significance and historical depth, simultaneously offering moments that can shape business ventures.

In this exploration, I’ll unravel the tapestry of federal holidays in the USA, the subtle aura they cast on the culture of commerce, and how your enterprise can navigate their impact.

You’ll leave equipped with insights to maneuver through official holidays strategically, maximizing potential while respecting the fabric of our national narrative.

From historical roots to holiday pay implications, let’s decode the language of these national pauses.

What’s unveiled could transform your business’s modus operandi on every federal holiday calendar date that dots our yearly journey.

What are the 10 US federal holidays you can look forward to?

Federal HolidayDate (2024)Day of the Week (2024)Observed bySignificance
New Year’s DayJanuary 1MondayAll statesMarks the start of the New Year
Martin Luther King Jr. DayJanuary 15MondayAll statesHonors civil rights leader MLK Jr.
Washington’s BirthdayFebruary 19MondayAll statesHonors George Washington, the first president
Memorial DayMay 27MondayAll statesRemembers those who died in military service
Juneteenth National Independence DayJune 19WednesdayAll statesCommemorates the end of slavery
Independence DayJuly 4ThursdayAll statesCelebrates the nation’s independence
Labor DaySeptember 2MondayAll statesHonors the American labor movement
Columbus DayOctober 14MondayFederal gov’t + some statesAcknowledges Christopher Columbus’s arrival
Veterans DayNovember 11MondayAll statesHonors military veterans
Thanksgiving DayNovember 28ThursdayAll statesCelebrates harvest and other blessings
Christmas DayDecember 25WednesdayAll statesCommemorates the birth of Jesus Christ

The US observes 10 distinct public holidays every year. Also called federal holidays, each state can choose which ones will be observed and which ones won’t.

Most of these federal holidays move to a substitute weekday if they fall on a weekend. This isn’t the case with European public holidays, such as those in France.

Of all the federal holidays, only one is religious. Most of them commemorate key events from the US’s history which goes to show just how much Americans love their country.

New Year’s Day

The entire country celebrates this federal holiday because it marks the beginning of a new year, according to the Gregorian calendar. This holiday falls on the 1st of January every year. It automatically moves to the next Monday if it falls on a weekend.

Much like in the rest of the world, the people of America often stay up till midnight to greet the new year. At midnight, the sky is often covered with fireworks.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

All 50 states celebrate this federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It falls on the third Monday of January every year.

Born on the 15th of January 1929, this civil right activist is an important historical figure in the US. Before his assassination in 1968, he had maintained a relentless campaign against racial discrimination. This federal holiday came to be following his death.

Many parades and marches take place across the country on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Political leaders and civil rights activists also give speeches on this important day.

George Washington’s Birthday

Also referred to as President’s Day, this federal holiday honors another important figure from American history. It falls on the third Monday of February every year.

Originally dedicated to George Washington, it eventually became the celebration of every US president who’s ever served the US.

Memorial Day

This federal holiday commemorates those who’ve fallen while defending their country. Originally known as Decoration Day, it falls on the last Monday in May every year. Most public institutions close down. However, recreational centers are often busy on Memorial Day.

Juneteenth Day

Also called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, this federal holiday celebrates the abolishment of slavery which took place on June 19, 1865. Joe Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021.

The holiday is celebrated in 19 states and falls on the 19th of June. When it falls on a weekend, it moves to the following Monday instead.

This day is especially important to the Afro-American citizens of the US.

Independence Day

This iconic US federal holiday falls on the fourth of July, which has become interchangeable with Independence Day. US citizens celebrate the day their country gained independence from Great Britain. The majority of institutions don’t operate on this national holiday.

Independence Day always warrants a day off. Should it fall on Saturday, it moves to the Friday before it. And when it falls on Sunday, it automatically moves to the next Monday.

The whole country is busy celebrating Independence Day. Roads are often full of traffic and public transport doesn’t function as it normally does. A typical Independence Day is marked by fireworks, parades, and concerts. Most decorations follow the blue-white-red color palette, based on the country’s flag.

Labor Day

This international holiday falls on the First Monday in September in the US. It is a tribute to workers and employees who contributed to the economic advancement of their country. Americans honor the sacrifices of those laborers who worked to secure a better work environment for their future generations.

Also known as the Long Weekend, this federal holiday is often associated with the end of summer. Most public institutions don’t operate on this day, though some private companies do.

Columbus Day

A federal holiday since 1937, Columbus Day honors the sailor who first landed in America.

Though Christopher Columbus thought he discovered a new way to India, he’s considered the one who discovered the American continent. The holiday falls on the second Monday in October.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a tribute to every soldier who fought for the US. It differs from Memorial Day, which celebrates those who fought while defending their country. It falls on the 11th of November every year.

Thanksgiving Day

Together with Independence Day, this is one of the most well-known US federal holidays in the world. It falls on the fourth Thursday in November. Initially meant to celebrate the harvest, it’s become the day on which Americans express their gratitude for all the good in their lives.

Most public institutions close on this day. Much like on Christmas Day, families gather together and show their appreciation for each other. The most typical Thanksgiving meal is a stuffed Turkey. Other common dishes are made from autumn crops such as pumpkins and cranberries.

Christmas Day

And last but not least, we have the worldwide Christmas Day. This Christian holiday celebrates the birth of baby Jesus. This celebration came to be during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 336.

Though for some people it still holds religious connotations, many simply treat it as an opportunity to spend time with their families. Typical American Christmas dishes vary from one house to another.

Most institutions don’t operate on this day. However, the spirit of generosity can be felt everywhere. Many companies give their employees a holiday with pay on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is preceded by weeks of intense decorating. Apart from Christmas trees, many Americans decorate their yards with sleighs, reindeer, and Christmas lights.

FAQ On US Federal Holidays

What exactly are US federal holidays?

They’re a set of public holidays recognized by the US government. On these days, non-essential federal government offices close down, and employees usually receive a day off.

They serve to honor significant historical events, figures, and cultural observances, making them both unique and essential to our national identity.

How many US federal holidays are there?

Each year, there are ten standard federal holidays. However, when a holiday like Christmas Day falls on a weekend, an extra day may be given during the workweek, creating an additional observance.

They’re the milestones of our shared American journey that both private and public sectors acknowledge.

Are businesses required to close on these holidays?

Here’s the deal: federal holidays don’t mandate private business closures or dictate how private businesses should handle these days. Federal offices and banks, typically yes—they shut down.

Businesses, though, they set their own rules. They may close, stay open, or even offer holiday specials, depending on their strategies and customer needs.

Do all states observe federal holidays equally?

Mostly, yes. But while states generally align with federal observance, they have the freedom to determine their own official holidays.

Some states might add their local flavor, celebrating additional days pertinent to their history or cultural importance. So, you could say state observance dances to a slightly different rhythm.

Is mail delivered on federal holidays?

Plain and simple: No. The U.S. Postal Service honors these dates. Your local post office flags will be at half-mast as postal workers take a breather.

If you’re waiting on mail, expect delays. Private carriers? They might operate but often align postal holidays with their scheduling for broader convenience.

Do schools close on federal holidays?

For sure, in general, they do. Schools typically follow the federal holiday calendar, gifting students a break and a chance to dive into the historical depths of our nation.

After all, each federal holiday has its tale, and schools sometimes expand on these narratives through activities before the break.

Are federal holidays considered paid holidays?

For federal employees, absolutely. It’s part of the job perk package. In the private sector, though? That’s up to employers. Many do offer holiday pay, but it’s not a blanket rule.

The private business terrain is tricky—holidays can be paid, unpaid, or occasionally, time to make extra cash.

What happens if a federal holiday falls on a weekend?

There’s a plan for that. When a holiday lands on a Sunday, the following Monday generally becomes a substitute day off. Saturday holiday? It shifts to Friday.

This ensures federal employees—and many in the private sector too—still get that moment of leisure or reflection.

Do federal holidays affect financial markets?

Stock market holidays are real—and they align with federal ones. When you’re thinking about NYSE or NASDAQ, plan for the fact that these financial giants will take a day off too.

For anyone playing the stocks game, it’s a moment to take a breath and strategize sans the market buzz.

Can federal holidays be used for promotional events?

Oh, absolutely. Savvy businesses eye these dates for potential spikes in consumer interest. Holidays like Memorial Day or Labor Day have become synonymous with big sales.

Trotting out promotions during these times is a classic move—aligning with national sentiment while capturing that holiday-specific audience ready to engage and spend.


We’ve danced through a year’s worth of US federal holidays, those steadfast markers that give our businesses rhythm and our communities a shared pulse. It’s clear now, isn’t it? These days steeped in tradition aren’t just about calendars and closed signs—they’re woven into the very fabric of our societal and commercial existence.

We’ve seen how Memorial Day can transcend picnics, how Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey sales. Each holiday carries a larger narrative—one that savvy entrepreneurs can capitalize on, respecting the spirit while amplifying their strategies. Whether that’s through thoughtful promotions, community engagement, or simply giving your team a well-deserved break—it’s about balance, honoring both heritage and the hustle.

Moving forward, let’s mark these dates not just as opportunities for commerce but also as touchstones for reflection, connection, and celebration. After all, isn’t that what shapes the heart of every thriving venture? Here’s to leveraging the legacy of US federal holidays—to grow, to remember, and to prosper, together.

If you liked this article about public holidays in Australia, you should check out this one on how many working days are in a year.

You should also check out these other articles of ours about public holidays in France, UK bank holidays, Australian holidays, Canadian holidays, New Zealand holidays, and also public holidays in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.


I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.