Special Report

The Origins of July 4th and Every Other Federal Holiday

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Christmas Day
> Celebrated on: December 25

Christmas is a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. (In reality, however, no one knows when Christ was actually born and Dec. 25 was the winter solstice on the Roman calendar.) The day has over time grown to be a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon celebrated by people around the world as a holiday during which families get together and exchange gifts.

Christmas Day has been a federal holiday since 1885. When Christmas Day falls on a weekend, people get the closest regular workday off.

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Inauguration Day
> Celebrated on: Every 4 years, on Jan 20 or Jan 21 if the 20th is a Sunday

Inauguration Day — the day a newly elected president is sworn in — is a federal holiday only for federal employees in the so called “Inauguration Day Area,” which includes the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax in Virginia.

Inauguration Day used to be in March until the 20th Amendment was passed in 1933, setting the date for transfer of power to be on Jan. 20, and the first meeting of the new Congress to take place on Jan. 3.

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