The Federal Government of the United States of America has officially established ten holidays. In chronological order the first nine are New Year’s Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving Day.
The last official Federal Holiday in the calendar year is Christmas Day.
That’s right. Christmas Day is a federal holiday.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the bill making Christmas Day an officially recognized holiday on June 28, 1870.
Not only does history record that Christmas Day is a federal holiday, but it also records the words and writings of our Presidents who spoke of Christmas.
President George W. Bush’s Christmas message of December 19, 2005 shared these thoughts, “More than 2,000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a Son, and the God of heaven came to Earth, Mankind received its Savior, and to those who had dwelled in darkness, the light of hope had come. Each Christmas, we celebrate that first coming anew, and we rejoice in the knowledge that the God who came to Earth that night in Bethlehem is with us still and will remain with us forever.”
President Bill Clinton released these words on December 21, 1999, “Saint Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, on the first Christmas 2000 years ago, a bright star shone vividly in the eastern sky, heralding the birth of Jesus and the beginning of His hallowed mission as teacher, healer, servant, and savior… Today as the world stands at the dawn of a new millennium, His timeless message of God’s enduring love for each and every person continues to strengthen and inspire us.”
President Ronald Reagan (December 15, 1983) said, “Christmas is a time for giving, and as we reach out to family and friends, I hope we’ll also open our hearts to those who are lonely and in need … and millions forbidden the freedom to worship a God who so loved the world that He gave us the birth of the Christ Child so that we might learn to love each other.”
Christmas Day is one of our ten federal holidays. It has been recognized and spoken of by our Presidents. Our country’s history has the Christmas story deeply embedded in it.
It is interesting that a federal holiday – Christmas Day – could have a negative stigma attached to it in our nation’s public schools. But I guess it does. However, just as I would never wish that anyone would have a horrible federal holiday so it seems entirely appropriate to end this column with these two words: