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Public Holiday

Public holidays are non-working days for the majority of the public. Most businesses, schools, and institutions close. Public holidays have many different names depending on the country.

Many holidays around the world are celebrated with fireworks.


What Is a Public Holiday?

Public holidays are days when most of the public enjoys a non-working day.

These days are defined by local laws and regulations. Countries use different names for the type of those official non-working days like national holiday (USA), bank holiday (UK), or statutory holiday (Canada), just to name a few.

What Is a Federal Holiday?

In federal countries such as the United States, federal holidays are days when federal agencies, federal courts, and organizations that follow federal holiday regulations do not operate. The general population still has to work, most businesses remain open.

Federal holidays can be public holidays, but they don’t have to be.

What Is a National Holiday?

National holidays are another name for public holidays on a national level: Days when a country’s general population has a day off from work and many businesses and schools close. Some federal holidays have turned into national holidays over time.

  • Labor Day in the USA is a federal holiday and a national holiday: People take the day off and celebrate a long weekend.
  • Juneteenth in the USA, on the other hand, is a federal holiday, but usually not a day off: Some US states give their citizens a day off from work, while others merely mark it in the calendar.

Different Names For Public Holidays

At timeanddate.com, we display holidays under the holiday type the individual country has chosen—in the UK, for example, public holidays are called "bank holidays." You can see the different types we use to show public holidays in the right column under "name."

The table below gives an overview of the most common holiday types we display on timeanddate.com that all mean the same thing: They are all public holidays.

Holiday Type Displayed Country Businesses
Bank Holiday United Kingdom Closed
National Holiday Most Countries Closed
Red Days Norway Closed
Regular Holidays Philippines Closed
Restricted Holidays India Closed
Statutory Holiday Canada Closed

Regular, Gazetted, Restricted Holidays

In the Philippines, nation-wide public holidays are called regular holidays. The government can also declare discretionary holidays called special non-working holidays during the year.

India has a unique public holiday system with gazetted holidays and restricted holidays. Gazetted holidays are mandatory for all central government employees and agencies. Most schools and state and local agencies are also closed on gazetted holidays. The Indian government also releases a list of restricted holidays each year. Employees in businesses and state agencies that adhere to the central government’s holiday schedule can choose a specified number of holidays from the list. State and local agencies can also declare their own holidays.

Bank Holidays

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the term bank holiday has become synonymous with country-wide public holidays. However, in most parts of the world, only banks and financial institutions are closed during bank holidays.

Bridge Holidays

Bridge holidays or squeeze days are regular working days that tend to fall between a public holiday and a weekend. They are sometimes designated as non-working days to allow citizens to enjoy a long weekend. This is also often done to boost the economy and the tourist sector. Often, the government adds a working day during another weekend to make up for the working time lost during a bridge holiday.

Most people get these holidays as a day off from work and school. Every country has different rules about who can take a day off and various regulations about what payments are made for taking a day off or working during the holiday. These are usually codified in a country’s labor law.

Codified in Law

Most countries have a certain number of national holidays that the government is legally required to schedule every year. In some countries, like the United Kingdom, these holidays occur on specific dates of the year. The government has very little discretion in changing the dates or adding or removing holidays. Future holidays for these countries are easier to predict accurately.

In other countries, the government has the legal responsibility of declaring holidays each year. This discretionary power of the government can mean that future holiday dates can be harder to predict. Government and personnel changes can lead to holidays being added, moved, or removed, sometimes on short notice or arbitrarily.

At timeanddate, we spend countless hours going through government websites and the news, staying in contact with relevant government personnel, and doing thorough research so that we can provide you with the correct and updated holiday information as soon as there are any changes.

Not All Public Holidays Have Fixed Dates

Some countries have holidays that fall on different dates each year, for example, some Christian, Muslim, and Hindu holidays. Some holidays are legally required to fall on specific weekdays or times of the year. Thanksgiving in the United States, for instance, always falls on the fourth Thursday of November.

Weekends are Not Public Holidays

Weekends are usually not considered to be a public or a national holiday. In many countries, if a public holiday falls on the weekend, it is moved to a weekday.