Days off are a luxury in the US, so it’s no surprise that when the opportunity presents itself in holidays everyone grabs it with both hands!

One thing to understand though about holidays is also that they aren’t standard, and how they are distributed to staff can be somewhat confusing if you were used to a regimented schedule before now.

The major difference is that in the U.S., and in New York State, there is no strict legal requirement to give holidays, at all. Every holiday you are given is negotiated when you apply for a job, however as you get more and more senior and established, you will find that there are some standards that most businesses adhere to.

This introduces the concept of a “floating” holiday, where you have the option to take off one or two extra days which you and your employer will agree on (potentially each and every time you want to take them).

So, I thought it might be helpful to show you what holidays there are throughout the year, what they signify, who (normally) gets them, and most importantly explain what most people in New York City do for them!

A big note, first: I may not have some of this right and would love to know if I don’t! So please do let me know in the comments below.

The coming holidays 2018/19

Veterans Day / November 11, 2018 (Holiday on November 12, 2018) / Monday

Who it’s for: Floating holiday. Some people do, some people don’t get it, or you might get an option at your work.

What it commemorates: Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces.

How it’s celebrated: It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11am. It is a day where many veterans will come together and non-veterans are urged to support those who serve.

Thanksgiving Day / November 22, 2018 (Fourth Thursday of November) / Thursday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday. In some states, the Friday after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday” is also a public holiday and given off. It’s a day of shopping deals and crazy scenes at some stores!

What: An annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November.

How: Traditionally this is a day of family, and for those who don’t have family or are too far away from them, close friends. Lunch is referred to as “dinner” and there is more food put on a table than those attending can possibly eat. There is football on TV, groups come together, food is shared, and a moment is taken to give thanks for what you have, and those who have helped.

Christmas Day / December 25, 201 / Tuesday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday. Note though that “Boxing Day” isn’t a thing the day after. Sometimes Christmas Eve is offered as a day off as well.

What: Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

How: A day dedicated to family and being together with those who you love. food is shared, and quite a number of religious activities take place. Gifts are exchanged, For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, there is a strong tradition in New York City for Chinese food and the movies! You’ll see Chinatown absolutely filled!

New Year’s Day / January 1, 2019 / Tuesday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday. Sometimes New Year’s Eve is offered as a day off as well.

What: New Year’s Day, also called simply New Year’s or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar.

How: A day to relax, put your feet up, and welcome in the new year (hopefully not nursing too much of a headache from the night before). There are sometimes paradses, sports, and wholesome tv shows to watch.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day / January 21, 2019 (Third Monday of January) / Monday

Who: Floating holiday. Some people do, some people don’t get it, or you might get an option at your work.

What: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his assasination in 1968.

How: As this holiday is relatively young, there aren’t quite the number of traditional observances however more recently schools and groups have taken it as a day of celebrating African American culture, civil rights movements, and the constant work required to move a country forward.

(George) Washington’s Birthday or President’s Day / February 18, 2018 (Third Monday of February) / Monday

Who: Floating holiday. Some people do, some people don’t get it, or you might get an option at your work.

What: Washington’s Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. Today the nation typically combines Washington’s Birthday with Presidents’ Day, celebrating both days on the third Monday in February. However, Presidents’ Day is not the official name of the holiday. The idea behind the name was to create a holiday that did not recognize a specific president, but rather celebrated the office of the presidency. This joint recognition would also celebrate President Lincoln’s February 12 birthday within the same period, but arguably, George Washington (the Father of our country) deserves his own day (from here).

How: Some schools and groups may do things for this holiday, but many will treat it as a day off or a day of work.

Memorial Day / May 27, 2019 (Last Monday of May) / Monday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday.

What: Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

How: Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries and you will notice that the flag of the United States is flown at half staff from dawn until noon.

Independence Day / July 4, 2019 / Thursday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday.

What: In the epic adventure film `Independence Day,’ strange phenomena surface around the globe. The skies ignite… Wait… No… Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

How: This day is a bit of a fun one because you’ll see a lot of people getting into the spirit of the holiday. Red, white, and blue will be everywhere, marches are happening all over cities and towns, barbecues and grills are being lit and covered in hot dogs and burgers, and it is typically celebrated with friends. Fireworks mark the end of the evening in most cities with a distinct American feel.

Labor Day / September 2, 2018 (First Monday of September) / Monday

Who: Generally everyone gets this holiday.

What: Labor Day in the United States of America is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.

How: Many people travel for Labor Day and find themselves in a warm place before the cold seasons hit. Long weekends away or a quiet week in the city is typical. It gets a little hectic on the streets and in major transport hubs because of all this movement but it’s a good opportunity to take a moment.

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day / October 14, 2019 (Second Monday of October) / Monday

Who: Floating holiday. Some people do, some people don’t get it, or you might get an option at your work.

What: Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honor the Indigenous peoples of America and commemorates their shared history and culture.

How: Traditionally this day was celebrated as the founding of the Americas, however in more recent times it has been updated to remember the indigenous people of the United States. Many groups put on parades and events in public areas to show the rich history of the country’s indigenous people and use it as a day of education for younger people.

In summary, generally “everyone” gets:

  • New Year’s Day,
  • Memorial Day,
  • Independence Day (4th of July),
  • Labor Day,
  • Thanksgiving Day,
  • Friday after Thanksgiving, and
  • Christmas Day.

Then the ones that float are:

  • Washington’s Birthday or President’s Day, (Federal Holiday)
  • Good Friday,
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday, (Federal Holiday)
  • Veterans’ Day, (Federal Holiday)
  • Columbus Day/Indigenous Persons Day, and/or (Federal Holiday)
  • Christmas Eve, and/or New Year’s Eve.

Some people say “Pick 1/2” and other people will pick for them!

I’ve missed quite a number of religious holidays, I know. I’ll be back with them in the coming weeks!