List of observances in the United States by presidential proclamation

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U.S. law provides for the declaration of selected public observances by the President of the United States as designated by Congress or by the discretion of the President. Generally the President will provide a statement about the purpose and significance of the observance, and call on the people of the United States to observe the day "with appropriate ceremonies and activities". These events are typically to honor or commemorate a public issue or social cause, ethnic group, historic event or noted individual. However, (with several exceptions) there is no requirement that government or business close on these days, and many members of the general public may not be aware that such holidays even exist. Holidays proclaimed in this way may be considered a U.S. "national observance", but it would be improper to refer to them as a "Federal holiday". Many of these observances designated by Congress are authorized under permanent law under Title 36, U.S. Code, in which cases the President is under obligation to issue an annual proclamation.

In addition to annual commemorative events, the President may proclaim a day or period designated for mourning or prayer after the death of noted officials including U.S. Presidents and Chief Justices of the United States or after major tragic events or disasters with serious casualties.[1]

The policy of issuing proclamations calling for the observance of special days or events is in 1 CFR Section 19.4, which allows for the responsibility for the preparation and presentation of proposed proclamations calling for the observance of special days, or events to the Director of Management and Budget to such agencies as deemed appropriate. Proposed proclamations shall be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the specified observance, with any approved commemorative proclamations transmitted to the President.[2]

Annual special days recognized by presidential proclamation

BOLD indicates public holiday - most government agencies and major businesses closed.

Annual special weeks recognized by presidential proclamation

Annual special months recognized by presidential proclamation

Defunct observances

The following observances have been mandated or authorized by Congress or the President, but are no longer proclaimed or observed on a regular basis.

See also


  1. Presidential Proclamations Project, University of Houston.
  2. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 1, Section 19.4
  3. Established by Congress 1983, first observed 1986.
  6. Memorial Day was made an official observance by Congress in 1950 on May 30, Uniform Holiday Law in 1968 set date as last Monday in May.
  7. originally ended 2003, reinstated in 2009
  9. Observed on October 12 beginning 1934. Since 1971, observed on second Monday of October per Uniform Holiday Law
  10. Observed as Armistice Day from 1919-54. Between 1971-78, observed on fourth Monday of October per Uniform Holiday Law
  11. signed into observance by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
  13. Oldest proclaimed observance in US history, dating back to 1863 with Abraham Lincoln.
  14. Designated under Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-33)
  15. Obama, B. (2 Dec 2011). "International Day of Persons With Disabilities, 2011: a presidential document by the executive office of the president on 12/08/2011". Federal Register. Retrieved 25 Jan 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Observed beginning 2006, formerly "Jewish Heritage Week" (1980-2005).
  17. Observed as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990.
  18. Observed as National Hispanic Heritage Week beginning in 1968, became a month-long event in 1989

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