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I thought the rules for holidays on a weekend would be similar to what's commonly observed in the private sector - take the weekday closest to the actual date. But when I went to Wikipedia to confirm, I found this:

New Year's Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day are observed on the same calendar date each year, irrespective of the day of the week.

Implying that if the holiday fell on a weekend it was business as usual for the weekdays on either side. But that flies in the face of actual experience, for example 2023-01-01 fell on a Sunday but Monday 2023-01-02 was the observed holiday when everything was closed. So is the information on Wikipedia incorrect or just poorly worded?

I also tried to find an authoritative list of observed holidays on a government site, but failed. All the lists I found were compiled by private web sites. I'd rather know the actual rules anyway.

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If a holiday falls on a weekend it is officially observed on the closest weekday for the purposes of the day off. If if falls on a Saturday that means it would happen on the Friday before and if it falls on Sunday the Monday after.

It should be noted that is what the government does and how a private company does it might be different. For example if new years day falls on a Saturday some places don't give the day off on the Friday but have it on Monday so both days are in the same year.

An easy way to check is to look at the schedules of government offices, banks and other places that close on holidays and see what day the are closed in cases like that.

Fact Sheet: Federal Holidays - Work Schedules and Pay

If January 20th falls on a Sunday, the next succeeding day (i.e., Monday, January 21st) is designated as the public observance of the inauguration of the President and thus becomes the legal holiday of Inauguration Day.

"In Lieu of" Holidays All full-time employees, including those on flexible or compressed work schedules, are entitled to an "in lieu of" holiday when a holiday falls on the employee's nonworkday. Part-time employees are not entitled to an "in lieu of" holiday. If an agency's office or facility is closed due to an "in lieu of" holiday for full-time employees, the agency may grant paid excused absence to part-time employees who are otherwise scheduled to work on that day. (See 63 Comp. Gen. 306 (1984).)

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  • Another way to check is to find the lists of federal or state or local holidays. Those are typically posted online a year in advance or more. Jan 25, 2023 at 19:07
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    Similarly, if January 20th following the Election of the President falls on a Weekend, the President is legally sworn in at 1200 as required by law, but the actual swearing in ceremony is held the following Monday (since you cannot have it prior to the 1200 on the 20th of Jan.). It's considered a Federal Holiday for those Federal workers who work within D.C. proper, mostly because the nightmare traffic the event causes.
    – hszmv
    Jan 25, 2023 at 19:15
  • AFAIK private companies don't have to provide any days off by default, holiday or not. Jan 25, 2023 at 19:23
  • @JonathanReez You are correct but a lot of them do provide a set of Federal holidays off and when those days fall on a weekend they need to be adjusted. And I know of a few that move new years day to a Monday if it falls on a Saturday which is why I mentioned it.
    – Joe W
    Jan 25, 2023 at 19:26
  • @JoeW Moving the day off for New Years Day from Saturday to Friday is a bit of an accounting pain. It means there are N+1 holidays in the previous year and N-1 in the following, where N is the nominal number of holidays per year. But that's how the US federal government works. Jan 25, 2023 at 22:11
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There are 11 Federal Holidays:

New Years Day

MLK Day

President's Day

Memorial Day

Juneteenth

Independence Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day

Veteran's Day

Thanksgiving

Christmas

The longest gap between two federal Holidays is between Presidents Day (Floating Mid Feb) and Memorial Day (Floating Last Monday May), and the shortest gap is Christmas to New Years, which is 7 days.

Additionally, the President has the authority to declare any particular date a Federal Holiday for that one instance (This is usually used on the date of the State Funeral for a Former President OR more often in situations where a date specific holiday is set on an awkward day for a gap in the holiday (I.E. If Christmas Day is on a Tuesday, it's not uncommon for Christmas Eve to be declared a Federal Holiday)). Additionally, if your position is a Holiday Essential employee, you are given holiday pay and are entitled to another day in the pay period to take as a Federal Holiday.

EDIT: Additionally, if you are supposed to work on an unusual weekend schedule (I.E. you work Saturday/Sunday and are off Tues/Weds) you are entitled to a holiday off during the same pay period if you were scheduled to have off during the holiday scheduled.

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    All good information, but none of it answers the question. Jan 25, 2023 at 19:32
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    How does this answer what happens when a holiday falls on a weekend? Also it should be noted that it is impossible for 6 of those to fall on a weekend as they fall on a set day in the work week.
    – Joe W
    Jan 25, 2023 at 19:35
  • Per OP "I also tried to find an authoritative list of observed holidays on a government site, but failed. All the lists I found were compiled by private web sites. I'd rather know the actual rules anyway." Answering this issue.
    – hszmv
    Jan 26, 2023 at 12:08
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    I included a link in the question to a wikipedia article which lists the same 11 holidays. How did you think I was ignorant of them? The information I'm looking for is a way to get precise dates for when government offices will be closed for a particular holiday. Jan 26, 2023 at 13:29
  • @MarkRansom The specific date depends on the specific government office because the Federal Government does have some offices that are 24/7 operations. General rule is the Monday following the Weekend Holiday (The holidays that are floating Mondays were originally date specific but moved for the Monday Convince). Generally it's best to call the office ahead and ask for availability.
    – hszmv
    Jan 26, 2023 at 18:19
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It's poorly worded on Wikipedia. It is using "observed" in the sense of "when the holiday actually occurs" rather than "a day off work". The holidays that you list (New Year's Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day) are the ones that are defined by date. Veterans' Day always occurs on Nov. 11th and no one's going to act like Christmas happens on Dec. 26th, even if the 25th is a Sunday.

In contrast, the other holidays are defined by the "Nth Monday of the month" (or Thursday, in the case of Thanksgiving). Thus, the date changes every year, but the day of the week is fixed.

As the other answers note, government employees get the nearest weekday off, so Mon. Jan 2, 2023 was a day off this year. Last year, Fri. Dec 31, 2021 was a day off for New Year's 2022. Don't worry, they aren't missing out on any time off.

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    Yes, if Christmas is on a Saturday, kids don't have to wait till Monday to get presents, church services are still held on the 25th, shops normally open on a Saturday will tend to shut, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 26, 2023 at 16:52

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