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Christmas Eve and NYE aren’t federal holidays, but will feel like it in 2021

interior christmas. magic glowing tree, fireplace, gifts in dark

2021 has been another exhausting year as the COVID pandemic continues to disrupt life around the world. Just when it looked like we could have a relatively normal holiday season, the Omicron variant appeared. Now we’re all making difficult decisions about where to go and what to do over Christmas and New Year’s. To complicate matters further, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Saturday this year. Therefore, most businesses and federal offices will observe the holidays on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, respectively. But neither are actual federal holidays.

Christmas Eve is basically a holiday this year

As USA Today notes, the US Office of Personnel Management lists ten federal holidays that have been established by law. Additionally, the government made Juneteenth a federal holiday earlier this year, bringing the count to eleven. Here’s the complete list of federal holidays in the US:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January)
  • Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth Independence Day (June 18)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

Those are the days that are legally designated as federal holidays. But when they fall on weekends, the day we observe the holidays changes. When they fall on Saturdays, we observe them on Fridays. When they fall on Sundays, we observe them on Mondays. Earlier this year, July 4th fell on a Sunday, which meant that many Americans didn’t go to work on Monday, July 5th. Similarly, many of us will sleep in on Friday, December 24th this year since Christmas is on a Saturday.

The same is true for New Year’s Day. Much like Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve isn’t a federal holiday. But since New Year’s Day is a Saturday, we’ll observe the holiday on New Year’s Eve.

How this might affect your plans

Letters on a table in a mail centre sorting office
Letters on a sorting frame, table and shelves in a mail delivery sorting center. Image source: salarko/Adobe

Between Christmas being less than a week away and supply shortages continuing to affect businesses worldwide, you’re going to have trouble doing any last minute shopping before Saturday. That might be made even more challenging as businesses shut their doors on December 24th. Furthermore, as USA Today mentions, some Post Office locations will have limited hours on Christmas Eve.

Here are a few important warnings from the US Postal Service about delivery on Christmas Eve:

  • Christmas hours are posted at each Post Office location. Some locations may have extended hours leading up to the holiday, while others may have limited hours on Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24.
  • Mail will be picked up from blue collection boxes on Christmas Eve. Make sure you drop your mail in the collection box before 12 p.m. (noon) on December 24 (even if the final collection time posted on the box is later, as mail may be picked up earlier).
  • Customers who need mail pickups later on December 24 should visit their local Post Office.

Meanwhile, as always, Christmas Day is a Postal holiday. Don’t expect to send any mail on December 25th. As for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the USPS will run normally on Friday, December 31st, but all Post Office locations will be closed on Saturday, January 1st.

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.