US National, Public, Bank & School Holidays
2016, 2017 and 2018 US National Holidays
There are normally ten US National holidays each year, similar to the European bank holidays, four of them are set by date and the other six are set by day/month of year. American Federal employees normally work Monday to Friday so when a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday then the preceding Friday or following Monday is treated as a holiday (see ‡ in table).
Florida also observes a number of State holidays though often schools and federal offices will not be closed.
In addition, every fourth year there is Inauguration Day which takes place after the US presidential election.
A common question is “when are the US school holidays”? And the answer is, “it depends very much upon the State and even the County/District”. Bear in mind that Florida school children can visit the beach or theme parks pretty much anytime; either during holidays, at weekends or on school trips.
Florida school children typically get some of the public holidays off and sometimes these one day holidays are extended to a couple of days or even a week as at Thanksgiving though again it varies by School District. There are also the odd teacher training day and emergency closing days put aside for potential bad weather when the schools might have to close such as during the hurricane season.
The longest break is the summer break which is usually around 12 weeks in Florida. This starts anytime between late May and mid June and runs until early to late August.
The other main breaks for Florida schools are Spring Break, Thanksgiving and Winter Break. The Spring Break varies by County and is usually for a week before or after the Easter weekend. Also bear in mind that college Spring Break covers a much longer time period and sees the arrival of thousands of college students from all over the US and Canada.
The Winter Break is usually two weeks from before Christmas until the end of December or early into the New Year.
Also check out the various seasonal celebrations like Halloween and Christmas season events at the major theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
Note that when a US national holiday falls on a Saturday, then federal workers will often take the preceding Friday as holiday and when it falls on a Sunday, then they will often take the following Monday as holiday.
This means that most government offices, banks, post offices will be closed and some services like trash (rubbish) collection and mail delivery will not take place on those days. Because of the variable nature of what is and isn’t open on these days it is worth checking in a local newspaper or telephoning before making a special trip.
The following table shows the 2016, 2017 and 2018 US national holidays and other notable dates.
|‡ New Years Day
|January 1||January 1||January 1|
|‡ Martin Luther King Day
(third Monday in January)
|January 18||January 16||January 15|
|Robert E Lee’s Birthday
|January 19||January 19||January 19|
|February 12||February 12||February 12|
|February 14||February 14||February 14|
|Susan B Anthony’s Birthday
|February 15||February 15||February 15|
|‡ Presidents’ Day
(third Monday in February)
|February 15||February 20||February 19|
|Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday)
(Tuesday before Ash Wednesday)
|February 9||February 28||February 13|
|St. Patricks Day
|March 17||March 17||March 17|
|Pascua Florida Day
(usually April 2nd)
|April 1||April 2||April 2|
(previous Friday is Good Friday)
|March 27||April 16||April 1|
|April 22||April 22||April 22|
|‡ Confederate Memorial Day
(fourth Monday in April)
|April 25||April 24||April 23|
|April 26||April 26||April 26|
|Cinco de Mayo
|May 5||May 5||May 5|
(second Sunday in May)
|May 8||May 14||May 13|
|Armed Forces Day
(third Saturday in May)
|May 21||May 20||May 19|
|‡ Memorial Day
(last Monday in May)
|May 30||May 29||May 28|
|Jefferson Davis Birthday
(usually June 3rd)
|June 3||June 3||June 3|
|June 14||June 14||June 14|
(third Sunday in June)
|June 19||June 18||June 17|
|‡ Independence Day
|July 4||July 4||July 4|
|‡ Labor Day
(first Monday in September)
|September 5||September 4||September 3|
(2nd Monday in October)
|October 10||October 9||October 8|
|October 31||October 31||October 31|
(Tuesday after first Monday in November)
|‡ Veterans Day
|November 11||November 11||November 11|
|‡ Thanksgiving Day
(fourth Thursday in November)
|November 24||November 23||November 22|
(the day after Thanksgiving)
|November 25||November 24||November 23|
|‡ Christmas Day
|December 25||December 25||December 25|
|New Year’s Eve
|December 31||December 31||December 31|
Some of these US national holidays are very much traditional American holidays.
Martin Luther King Day commemorates the birthday of The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who was an African-American clergyman who fought tirelessly for the civil rights of all Americans.
He was assassinated in 1968 and memorial services have marked his birthday on January 15th each year since then. In 1986 the date was moved to the third Monday in January.
Robert E. Lee was one of the commanders of the Confederate army during the American Civil War and like many southern States, Robert E Lee Day is a state holiday in Florida. It often falls on the same day as Martin Luther King Day.
The inauguration of the US president takes place every four years and used to be held on March 4. In 1937 at the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s second term it was switched to January 20. The last Inauguration Day was on January 20, 2013 when Barack Obama started his second term. The next will be in 2017.
Susan Brownwell Anthony was a prominent female civil rights leader and one of the founders of women’s suffrage in the United States. It is a state holiday in Florida.
George Washington’s birthday (hero of the American War of Independence) used to be celebrated on February 22 each year and most states also celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (president during the Civil War) on February 12.
These two dates have been combined into a single Presidents Day which is now celebrated on the third Monday in February.
Pascua Florida Day commemorates the anniversary of the discovery of Florida in 1513 by the Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de León and is Florida’s State Day.
The name Florida is in honour of Pascua Florida, the Spanish Feast of the Flowers at Easter time which is when Juan Ponce de León first landed.
Confederate Memorial Day is separate from the national Memorial Day and specifically remembers the Southern Confederate soldiers who died or were wounded during the American Civil War during the 1860s. It is a Florida State holiday and the separately named State Holiday is locally observed on April 26.
Memorial Day which is held on the fourth Monday in May each year is one of two days commemorating Americas war dead (the other being Veterans Day). It was started as a commemoration to those who died during the American Civil War.
Jefferson Davis Day commemorates the birthday of Jefferson Davis, another Confederate leader and the only president of the Confederate States of America. It is a Florida legal holiday.
The Fourth of July or Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence (from the colonial rule of Great Britain) on July 4, 1776. Many Americans will fly the American flag outside their homes to commemorate Independence Day.
Labor Day honours Americas workers and is held on the first Monday in September. For most students it is the end of summer vacation (holiday) and the start of the next school year.
Christopher Columbus landed in the New World on October 12, 1492. This US national holiday is celebrated on the second Monday in October though note that some states including Florida do not observe it as a national holiday.
In Europe it is known as Armistice Day and originally commemorated the end of the Great War (First World War) in 1918, being on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Like Memorial Day it now commemorates all Americas war dead.
The puritans landed in America in 1620 but many of them died during the coming winter. With the help of the local native American Indians who taught them how to plant various crops including corn, they reaped a good harvest the following fall (autumn) and as a result they gave thanks for their salvation; hence Thanksgiving Day which has been celebrated from 1621 to this day.
Traditionally on Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November), Americans will get together with their families and many will take the following day, the Friday, as holiday as well to make it a long weekend.
“Black Friday” as it is known is effectively the start of the pre-Christmas sales.