A three-day weekend is coming up, well, at least for those who get federal paid holidays.

Federal workers, and many others, get 11 paid holidays each year. This is in addition to vacation time. Plenty of private employers give employees some paid holidays or pay them more if they work that day.

When I was an employee I loved working holidays because I earned time and a half or double time. Sometimes the boss felt sorry for us and provided a meal. Often there was a skeleton crew, with bosses not usually in the mix because they were salaried. It was a relaxed atmosphere, doing the same job as usual, and getting paid lots more to do it.

There are plenty of businesses that never shutdown. I’m sure not everyone gets paid extra, which is unfortunate based on how we recognize these holidays today.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “The first four congressionally designated federal holidays were created in 1870, when Congress granted paid time off to federal workers in the District of Columbia for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. In 1880, George Washington’s birthday was included. In 1885, Congress extended holiday coverage for some holidays to all federal employees. Although Thanksgiving Day was included in the first holiday bill of 1870, it was not until 1941 that Congress specifically designated the fourth Thursday of November as the official date.”

Today, the federal holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day—Jan. 1
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.—Third Monday of January
  • George Washington’s birthday—Third Monday of February
  • Memorial Day—Last Monday of May
  • Juneteenth—June 19
  • Independence Day—July 4
  • Labor Day—First Monday of September
  • Columbus Day—Second Monday of October
  • Veterans Day—Nov. 11
  • Thanksgiving Day—Fourth Thursday of November
  • Christmas Day—Dec. 25.

In addition, there is Inauguration Day every fourth year on Jan. 20, unless it falls on a Sunday, then the day off is Jan. 21.

I like that Washington’s birthday is really called Presidents Day in most places instead of honoring one president. When I was a kid we would get Lincoln’s birthday off too, thus making a four-day weekend in February.

Even better is how many communities are ditching Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

And Thanksgiving, well, plenty can be said about the myth we were taught in school; you know, that “friendly” feast between the native Indians and the land taking white people. It’s another farcical holiday people in the United States continue to celebrate.

I’m totally against Christmas being a federal holiday. It seems incongruous for a country founded on the separation of church and state to celebrate Christmas in this manner. Holidays for other religions are not federal holidays. At least if they were, it would be fair. Even so, I would think it wrong. It’s time to abolish Christmas as a federal holiday.

It’s time to get rid of all federal holidays at least in how we recognize them today. Seldom is the holiday celebrated for the person/people/purpose intended. It’s just another day off, as well as another day when so much commerce gets disrupted.

I’m not saying not to honor the people or events being singled out. But taking a day off is not helping a cause. I’m not more or less appreciative of dead soldiers on Memorial Day or live ones on Veterans Day. If I want to honor someone in the military or the group as a whole, I will do so how I feel works for me. And maybe that means asking for that day off (if I had someone to ask!), and going to a local ceremony.

We can still call attention to what I believe are the legitimate holidays that are deserving of celebration. However, if we honored all the worthy people/events with paid holidays, little work would get done—at least at the federal level. We can still create new holidays; they just don’t have to be paid events.

Why not give the current “paid holidays” as vacation time for the worker to take whenever it fits with her schedule? I’m all for vacation time—as much as someone can negotiate. In fact, I’ve never understood the person who does not use all of her vacation time in a year.

While we are revamping the federal holiday system, let’s rename some of days to make more of them worthwhile; like recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

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