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Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 commemorates the formation and signing of the Constitution of the United States on September 17, 1787. It is dedicated to all US citizens.

Is Constitution Day and Citizenship Day a Public Holiday?

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day USA
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States recognize both the importance of the nation's constitution and its citizens.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States recognize both the importance of the nation's constitution and its citizens.
©iStockphoto.com/ P_Wei

What Do People Do?

The United States president may issue each year a proclamation calling on government officials within the nation to display the country's flag on government buildings on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, as well as inviting the people to observe this event in schools, churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies.

Various civil and educational authorities and individuals throughout the United States observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day through a range of events and activities each year. For example, the Center for Civic Education provides lesson topics on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day for students at different levels. The US Department of Education provides various resources on the event as the department is responsible for implementing Constitution Day legislated mandates. Among these is the requirement for educational institutions that receive federal funds to hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 each year.

Public Life

Many people observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, which is not a federal public holiday, in the United States.

Background

On Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, an event which falls during Constitution Week, many people in the United States recognize the anniversary of the nation’s constitution and the efforts and responsibilities of all citizens. With regard to the nation’s constitution, in the summer of 1787 delegates convened in Philadelphia to create “a more perfect union” and to craft the country's constitution. They worked to develop a framework that would provide balance and freedom, taking into account federal and state interests, as well as individual human rights. The delegates signed the Constitution of the United States on September 17 that year. By June 21, 1788, the constitution was effective, having been approved by nine of the 13 states.

With regard to recognizing citizens, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst advocated a day to celebrate US Citizenship in 1939. In 1940 the Congress created “I Am an American Day” to be celebrated in the third Sunday in May. On February 29, 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law “Citizenship Day”. It was established to replace I am an American Day. On August 2, 1956, the Congress requested that the president proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as “Constitution Week”. One more change was made to the event when a federal law enacted in December 2004 designated September 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day”.

When Constitution Day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or on another holiday, the day must be held on a weekday during the preceding or following week. This was the case in 2005, when Constitution Day was generally observed on Friday, September 16, and 2006 when the holiday was observed on Monday, September 18.

Symbols

Positive images of United States citizens of all backgrounds have been used to promote the “Citizenship” element of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The colors (red, white and blue) of the United States flag, as well as images of the flag, have also been used in artwork for promotional material for the day. Painted images of the constitution’s founders are also used to illustrate the importance of the meaning behind the day and the words “We the People”, which are written in the constitution, have been highlighted in promotional material to symbolize unity and cooperation within the nation.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2011FriSep 16Constitution Day and Citizenship Day observedObservance 
2011SatSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2012MonSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2013TueSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2014WedSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2015ThuSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2016FriSep 16Constitution Day and Citizenship Day observedObservance 
2016SatSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2017SunSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2017MonSep 18Constitution Day and Citizenship Day observedObservance 
2018MonSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2019TueSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 
2020ThuSep 17Constitution Day and Citizenship DayObservance 

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