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, the private sector, and are typically derived from the history, religion and the cultures of the U.S. demographics and have changed over time. Observances of holidays are most commonly observed with paid time off, however, many holiday celebrations are done with festivities without time off. Some are observed with community work depending on the meaning of the holiday. They are however not mandated by any government, agencies, whether it be federal, state, or local governments. There are no national holidays on which all businesses are closed by law. Federal holidays are only established for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for Washington, D.C. 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 opening. Some states restrict some business activities on some holidays. Business closures are mandated on some holidays in some states for certain kinds of businesses by Blue Laws. For example, some businesses cannot open on Thanksgiving Day in some New England states if the businesses operated on more than 5000 square feet of space. The most notable businesses to close on such occasions are car dealerships and establishments selling alcohol.
As of 2012, there were eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual holidays and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day). Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
While all current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states for federal organizations, 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 U.S. federal government. Many businesses likewise observe certain holidays as well, which are also not mandated by any government agency. A list of “recommended diversity holidays” recognizes many cultures that range from Christianity to Islam, as well as racial diversity where various ethnic holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Kwanzaa.