The schedule of public holidays in the United States is largely influenced by the schedule of federal holidays but is controlled by private sector employers who provide 62% of the total U.S. population with paid time off.[ Public holidays with paid time off is generally defined to occur on a day that is within the employee's work week. When a holiday occurs on Saturday or Sunday, that holiday is shifted to either Friday or Monday for work purposes. Most employers follow a holiday schedule similar to the federal holidays of the United States, with exceptions or additions. The federal holiday schedule mainly benefits employees of government and government regulated businesses; however, this sector only comprises 15% of the working population.
At the discretion of the employer, other non-federal holidays such as New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve and the Day after Thanksgiving are common additions to the list of paid holidays while Columbus Day and Veterans Day are common omissions. Besides paid holidays, there are festival and food holidays that also have wide acceptance based on sales of goods and services that are typically associated with that holiday. Halloween and Valentine's Day are examples of widely celebrated uncompensated holidays.
Public holidays had their origins from established federal holidays that were enacted by Congress. They were typically observed on days that have significance for various sectors of American society and are observed at all levels of society, including government and the private sector. These holidays are typically derived from the history, religions, and cultures of the United States and have changed over time. Major holidays are most commonly observed with paid time off, however, many other holiday celebrations come without time off.
Cinco de Mayo dancers greeted by President George W. Bush
There are no national holidays on which the law requires all businesses to close. Federal holidays are only established for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses, government contractors, and the city of Washington, DC. All other public holidays are created by the States; most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As a result, holidays have not historically been governed at the federal level and federal law does not govern business openings.
Some states, however, do restrict certain business activities on some holidays. Business closures are mandated on a few holidays in some states for certain kinds of businesses by blue laws. For example, businesses that operate on more than 5,000 square feet (460 m2) cannot open on Thanksgiving in some New England states. The most notable businesses to close on such occasions are car dealerships and liquor stores. Some holidays are observed with community service, depending on the meaning of the holiday. Service is, however, not mandated by any government agencies, whether they be federal, state, or local.
As of June 2021, there are eleven annual federal holidays in the United States, and one additional quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day). Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for
A jack-o'-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween
While all current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states, each state is not bound to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays. Many states also have additional holidays that are not observed by the federal government. Many businesses likewise
Since 2000, some city and state-level celebrations of Malcolm X Day and Rosa Parks Day have been created, in addition to the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to embrace the African American community in the form of festivals and parades. Illinois and Berkeley, California are two places where Malcolm X is honored by a legal holiday with offices closed, whereas Missouri honors Rosa Parks on her birthday. Today, the United States is the 85th most ethnically diverse country in the world. Many workplaces celebrate religious observance as well as ethnic holidays, such as Saint Patrick's Day, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Mardi Gras, and Cinco de Mayo, as a matter of best practice. While the popularity of each public holiday cannot easily be measured, the holiday with the highest greeting card sales is Christmas Major retail establishments, such as shopping malls and centers, close only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but remain open on all other holidays (with early closings on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and sometimes on other major holidays). In the face of a rapidly tightening retail market in the 2010s, retailers have increasingly been opening on Thanksgiving evening and night to extend Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. Virtually all large companies observe and close on the major holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Some non-retail businesses close on the day after Thanksgiving, while others (such as federal banks and post offices) are not allowed to close that day. Some smaller businesses normally open on Sundays will close on Easter Sunday if they expect to have very few customers that day