For the second year in a row, President Trump has issued an executive order making Christmas Eve a holiday for federal workers – with pay.
What makes this year’s order extra special is the fact that Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday. And the last time that happened — in 2013 — the people’s president, Barack Obama, did NOT declare Christmas Eve a federal holiday.
So there’s that…
The specific text of the order says:
All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, the day before Christmas Day.
The heads of executive departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on December 24, 2019, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.
The last time federal workers got time off on a Tuesday Christmas Eve was in 2002 when “Dubya” declared a half-day holiday.
Christmas Eve is not recognized as an official federal holiday, but a president does have the discretion to issue an executive order to give the day or half day off.
In case you were wondering, here are the official federal holidays:
• New Year's Day (January 1).
• Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January).
• Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February) – now generally celebrated as “Presidents’ Day.”
• Memorial Day (Last Monday in May).
• Independence Day (July 4).
• Labor Day (First Monday in September).
• Columbus Day (Second Monday in October) — which 10 states and dozens of cities have now renamed “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” The first state to make the change was South Dakota in 1989, but the movement didn’t really start rolling until 2015.
• Veterans Day (November 11).
• Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November).
• Christmas Day (December 25).
Interestingly, federal employees also get a holiday on Presidential Inauguration Day.
Per OPM.gov, Federal employees in the Washington, DC, area are entitled to a holiday on the day a president is inaugurated (January 20 following a presidential election). Employees are entitled to this holiday if they are employed in-
1.the District of Columbia;
2.Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland;
3.Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia; and
4.the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia.
Christmas Eve or no, your federal elected officials of the Senate and House of Representatives are technically not in session from now until some time in January. The House is scheduled to be in session January 7th, but the Senate hasn’t released any dates yet for the entire month of January because of the possible impeachment trial.
But who cares about any of that now? Let’s hope all of us – not just the federal employees covered by Trump’s surprise order – are able to unplug for a couple of days to enjoy the tidings of comfort and joy. And let us be particularly thankful for those who will be reporting for duty on those days so we may rest comfortably in our beds knowing there are guardians at the gate.