Federal Holidays

There are 11 Federal Holidays that are observed annually: New Year’s Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Inauguration Day every four years in designated places such as the District of Columbia.  The first federal holidays were established in 1870 for federal employees in DC: New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A 5th was added in 1879: Washington’s Birthday, and not until 1885 were the holidays extended to all federal employees of the nation.  The following is the timeline for the rest of the holidays: 1888 – Decoration Day/Memorial Day, 1894 – Labor Day, 1938 – Armistice Day/Veteran’s Day, 1957 – Inauguration Day, 1968 – Columbus Day, 1983 – Birthday of Martin Luther King, and 2021 – Juneteenth National Independence Day.

New Year’s Day has a long history that predates the US.  It marks the beginning of a new calendar year per the Gregorian calendar.  It is celebrated with fireworks, a big ball dropping in Times Square, parades, drinking and people also enjoy New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming year.  Yep, most everyone is pretty cool with this holiday, well, except for the few that don’t follow the Gregorian calendar. 

Independence Day marks the date that the Declaration of Independence was issued.  This holiday is also celebrated with fireworks and drinking, but, yes, also displays of patriotism, including the correct and incorrect use of our flag.  Correct: kind of like the one flown at the library, Incorrect: An American flag bikini.   You might think that this is another holiday everyone enjoys.  Nope.  Independence, but not for all as Frederick Douglas noted in his 1852 famous address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

Thanksgiving Day, a day that celebrated days of thanks for successful harvests, but we associate with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag natives.  The date of this holiday has some interesting history tied into good ol’ commercialism.  Roosevelt actually moved it from the final Thursday, to the 4th to boost Christmas shopping season, and oh yeah, that thing known as Black Friday succeeds it.  Again, not a holiday embraced by all Americans, because of cultural appropriation and white-washing.  The “Indians” and “Pilgrims” might have shared harvest, but we all know that friendship did not last. 

Christmas Day, the only religious event recognized as a federal holiday. “A Pew Research Center study finds that while most Americans celebrate Christmas, fewer of them consider it a religious holiday.”  A holiday created to recognize the Christian influence at the forming of our nation has changed, and yes, this day obviously has ties with commercialism.  A holiday still acknowledged by most, but not for all the same reasons. 

You are getting the picture, correct?  Not everyone recognizes or embraces every federal holiday, not even the ones we have had since 1870. Washington’s Birthday – still officially called that even after public opinion of Washington changed over time, now we call it President’s Day adding Lincoln in to the mix, or maybe just being as general as we can.  Memorial Day – first in recognition of those we lost in the Civil War, now for all lost in the line of duty, but what about the pacifists and most people decorate graves all past loved ones, service or not.  Labor Day – gives workers a 3-day weekend and recognizes the average laborer, but not to be confused with International Labor Day or May Day that “stems from a resistance to emboldening worldwide working-class unity, you know, Marxism and all that jazz.”  Veteran’s Day – Wisconsin does not recognize, Inauguration – I think DC does it just because traffic must be awful on January 20th., Columbus Day – Ol’ Christopher has a pretty awful record on treatment of Native Americans, Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. – Reagan initially opposed a holiday in King’s name and in 2000,17 years later, South Carolina was the last state to recognize it, and that brings me to the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day.  A date of celebration 2 years after Lincoln outlawed slavery, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and freed the remainder of enslaved people, yep, 2 years later.  Only 24 states recognize this newest holiday and I have seen and heard hate spewed from a number of people in our own community. 

Shame on you, Haters, and shame on Wisconsin for still not recognizing Veterans Day.  Every holiday doesn’t have to be specific for you, we are a country of many, surely we can all recognize that.  Oh yeah, the library was closed on June 20th for Juneteenth, we are closed for all Federal Holidays, see, I always write about the library. 

Upcoming Events: 6/27 Summer Reading Program with special guest, author, Kevin Sherry at 10am.  Farmers’ Market 7/2 from 9am – noon, CLOSED 7/4, Book Club 6/5 at 6:30pm. We have SRP adult book bags available for checkout and the Little House Reading Challenge ends on June 30th.