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Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday: Here’s what’s open and what’s closed

Most federal employees will have the day off, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday: Here’s what’s open and what’s closed
[Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images]
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Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday yesterday when President Joe Biden signed into law legislation that Congress passed earlier in the week.

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Here’s what to know about the newest special day, June 19, on the official calendar of United States holidays:

What does Juneteenth commemorate?

The holiday celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. June 19, 1865, was when Major General Gordon Granger reached Galveston, Texas, and declared that the Civil War was over. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two and half years earlier on January 1, 1863, but many slaveholders didn’t free their slaves.

What happens when a federal holiday falls on a Saturday?

In the majority of cases, the Friday before becomes the legal public holiday, according to the U.S. Code. Most federal employees will have the day off on Friday, June 18, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Given that the law was just passed, it’s unclear whether that includes postal workers this year. The U.S. Postal Service did not immediately respond to an email query from Fast Company. Also, as of Thursday afternoon, financial markets seemed poised to open on Friday.

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What’s normally closed on federal holidays?

Federal holidays have no postal service, which is run by the federal government. That also means nonessential federal offices are typically closed. Plus, the markets and banks are closed, as are most schools, universities, and state offices. (This year, Juneteenth falls on a Saturday and next year on a Sunday.) Note, though, that businesses are free to decide whether they want to open or stay closed. Last year, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and national protests over racial justice, many companies vowed to make Juneteenth a work holiday.

Before Juneteenth, when was the last time a new federal holiday was added?

That was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1983 and took effect in 1986. It’s the third Monday in January; the civil rights leader was born on January 15.

In addition to Juneteenth and MLK Day, what are the other legal public holidays?

New Year’s Day, January 1; George Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February; Memorial Day, the last Monday in May;  Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, the first Monday in September; Columbus Day, the second Monday in October; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November; and Christmas Day, December 25.