Public Holidays that Are or Aren’t

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Ask my wife about President’s Day and it hardly registers because the only job she has had in the US does not treat it as a paid holiday. Though when she got into the empty subway today she was not as sunny as the weather.

Many companies in New York recognize President’s Day. A number, particularly in finance, also recognize Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

Growing up in Minnesota I took it as given that President’s Day was a day off, while it seemed contradictory for my school to argue that we did not have MLK, Jr Day off because of the need to spend that day learning, in contrast to the one for presidents.

I meet Americans from other states that find it baffling to get President’s Day off. Citations on Wikipedia suggest the each of these holidays are observed by around 1/3 of US private employers.

The US has no public or statutory holidays. Federal holidays are a proxy for many private employers to follow, though not a legal requirement. Like much in the US system, power sits with states and often down to local jurisdictions. Much is up to private employers to determine their own approach.

I thought the US might be lonely in this approach, so it is eye opening to see that while most countries do have public holidays, quite a few do not mandate that those be paid holidays.

I like the idea of a day to honor our history and civic duty, situated in the bleak tail of winter. It’s a great time of year for a getaway.

Readers, should President’s Day be a paid day off where you work?

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Jerry Udell
Jerry Udell

Come to Ontario Stefan.
Today was Family Day. Paid and fun!


There’s also Columbus Day, which as far as I know is a holiday in some states and, weirdly, a day of grief and remembrance of some stuf that Los Conquistadors did back in the day.

Ben Looney
Ben Looney

I don’t mind most being up to the states. Personally, my employer gives MLK day off, but not President’s day. We also get the friday before homecoming day off, well, because why not 🙂 …I work for a university. Also, President’s day is what…to honor men who had the privilege to be our President? Some of ’em don’t even deserve to be honored. But, I do think presidential election day (once every 4 years) should be a national, paid day off and should be treated with roughly the same respect that (should be) shown on July 4th, Memorial and Veterans… Read more »


Good idea. Cancel the Presidents Day holiday (only a few of them actually deserve to be remembered anyway), and make Election Day a holiday instead, every two years.