Who will receive the next national holiday?

Adam Burns, a loyal MR reader, asks:

Who do you think will be the next person to receive a national holiday in the US?

Or, if they are currently unknown, what characteristics/achievements will this person have to earn themselves that recognition?

Someone Latino sounds about right, since there is a growing number of Latino voters.  Yet who exactly should that be?  It’s been a long time since Cesar Chavez and in any case his cause is no longer fashionable.  Picking “an invisible Latino” won’t quite do the trick either.  American Latinos seem to have less mainstream canonicity, at least qua Latino.  There is no equivalent of Martin Luther King.  Nor are we about to dedicate a day to all the people who run across the border, no matter how persuasive Michael Clemens may be.

How about a day named after a generic old person?  They vote too, and this could be done while limiting the “doc fix” to trick them into submission before preparing the ice floes.  But how to make it polite?  “Oldies Day” won’t cut it, even if they can get away with a version of that in baseball or on the radio.

Most likely is that a naming opportunity will be sold to the highest bidder, in the midst of our forthcoming fiscal crisis, 侯逸凡 Day anyone?


Based solely on my desire to have more three-day weekends in nice parts of the the year, it should be someone with a birthday in either August or late April.

A national holiday doesn't necessarily mean a day off.

Ever have off for Flag Day, Columbus Day, or MLK birthday?

Uh, Bill, both Columbus Day and MLK Day are federal holidays. Yes, we get them both off every year. Federal and state governments take off for both, and most universities and colleges recognize one or both.

Private employers might have a different policy.

OPM has both Columbus and MLK off, but not Flag Day.

If you read my question, it was not directed to Federal workers. In fact, I had looked up the OPM Federal Holidays list before posting. As I said: "A national holiday doesn’t necessarily mean a day off."

Ever had Flag day off? Many employers don't give Columbus or MLK or Flag day off either.

I read your question perfectly. You did not read my answer perfectly.

Your question didn't specify the type of employer. If you wanted a private sector response, you should have been more specific. I answered your question as both a former federal and state employee, and as a student at several universities, all of which honored both holidays with a day off.

And yes, some private employers do give the day off on Columbus Day and/or MLK Day. My current private sector employer gives the day off for both.

Since Flag Day is also the US Army's birthday, yes I have had off on Flag Day, but not for Flag Day.

Your are correct that national holiday doesn't imply "day off", but that doesntt change my answer. There needs to be a national consensus, and MLK didn't have that for many years. It will likely be decades before another national holiday, and if there is one soon, 9/11 is the most likely candidate presently.

I doubt there will ever be a national consensus for a national holiday honoring a Hispanic person or cause in my lifetime.

California has a holiday for Cesar Chavez and recognizes Indigenous People on Columbus Day. California doesn't represent the national sentiment on anything.

All the Big Three automakers and schools in Detroit have MLK Day off.

Mike, I just took your response differently, it appears, than you intended.

Some government contracts require that employers have some set of federal holidays off (with pay).

Flag Day isn't a "Holiday." In almost 20 years of private sector employment I've had at least one of Columbus & MLK off every year. Some places they were part of a "Pick Six" group of second tier holidays (Col, MLK, Day after Thanksgiving, St. Pats, Veterans, Presidents, etc) and some places were completely closed for both days.

My experience has been which holidays are observed is a regional phenomenon. In DC, I had MLK, Columbus Day, and President's Day off, but in IL I get none of those (and nor do I get Lincoln's Birthday instead).

Move to Hawaii, the private sector and state employee's get every other day off for some obscure local holiday celebrating their failures. Feds though get stuck working them.

Earth Day seems like a pretty decent choice. It's located right in the middle of prime holiday territory, and nature seems like sort of vague ideal which is perfectly suited for being promoted from being a vaguely political quasi-holiday to being a full fledged national holiday. Just move it to the third Monday of April and you're done.

There's also Patriots' Day which is already at the third Monday of April, (commemorating the Battle of Lexington and Concord) but although Massachusetts has a nice little tradition set up around it, it seems like it would be kind of redundant with Independence Day to be a national holiday.

Earth Day's popularity has peaked already. It is too tied to the environmentalist movement, which is very contentious. National holidays to honor something/someone that is almost universally revered.

Hou Yifan?

侯逸凡.........just wanted to check if weird characters could make the comment engine crash.........

I know you don't care much for him, but David Foster Wallace saw this coming.

I would rather ask which we can revoke. The outsized number of holidays for gov't employees is yet another perk taxpayers can't afford.

The obvious choice to eliminate is Labor Day. Followed by Thanksgiving. Labor might be replaced by "serf","sharecropper", "indentured servant", or "slave" day to represent the power of corporations over individuals, which suggests the next holiday would logically be "Corporation Day" celebrated on a Saturday which becomes a regular work day, but without pay.

Thanksgiving isn't a day with meaning anymore - no one is thankful. It need not be renamed Shopping Day, or something, because Halloween can be given its day off status so the celebration of consumerism can give a bigger boost to the economy. Christmas should be renamed Consumption Day,and New Years Day really begins the long winter of Austerity when the credit card bills come due.

I'm trying to remember the last time a corporation coerced me into doing anything with the threat of force, as opposed to selling me things I need or employing me.

I guess they erased those memories with their mind-control rays. Damned corporations.

TallDave, since corporations run the US government, the answer would be "all day, every day."

Oh, right, I forgot about the mind-control rays again.

Although, I suppose it's useless trying to remember them...

Actually, Thanksgiving is just about the only holiday that (mostly) everyone in the United States actually observes.

I too would revoke several of them.

The calendar seems saturated wth holidays. We might not have another for a very long time.

There will have to be a broad consensus, so if I were to guess it would be September 11.

Too close to Labor Day. More likely, it will go the way of December 7.

Good point. I considered that but Christmas and NYD are only a week apart. And as Bill said, it might not be a day off.

Well, only three of 10 federal holidays commemorate people: MLK Day, Columbus Day and Christmas, so the next holiday probably won't be named after someone. The next federal holiday, if there is one, will probably be Black Friday, the Day After Thanksgiving. A lot of private employers already grant it.
But recall that public employee benefits are not likely to expand in coming years, as the federal government grapples with deficit issues. It would be hard to justify an additional holiday. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years federal employees are forced to take an annual furlough between Christmas and New Year's, as part of a permanent budget reduction.

Technically, what's commonly referred to by the retailers and calendar makers as President's Day is George Washington's Birtsday. So, four.
But one could argue that Christmas in the federal sense commemorates secular Christmas, sans Jesus (or Santa), what with the government forbidden from endorsing any specific religion.
So, three still?
I guess your point was that most holidays dont commemorate people in the first place.

Presidents' Day (look where the apostrophe is) recognizes Washington's birthday (22nd), Lincoln's birthday (12th) and that of every other president. Two presidents dictate the location of its holiday, but it hasn't officially commemorated one person's birthday since the holiday was moved to a Monday a generation ago.
I agree Christmas is a sticky wicket.

Actually, you're wrong. The official name for the holiday is, and always has been, "Washington's Birthday." Referring to it as President's Day allowed the states that celebrated both Washington's birthday and Lincoln's birthday, such as California, an easy way to reduce their holiday count by one. This wasn't an issue for the southern states, which would probably still refuse to honor Lincoln 146 years after his death.

Serious question, what is a "Latino?"

Is Vicente Fox a "Latino?" Placido Domingo? How about their five foot Aztec countrymen--are they "Latino?"

Spaniards? What about the Italians? Is a Puerto Rican a Latino? A Meso-American? Cuban?

What is a Chicano?

A Mexican American

Thanks Jennifer, but that question was rhetorical. I was seconding Anti-Gnostic's rhetorical questions about arbitrary distinctions.

I'm 1/4 Mexican, 1/2 Korean, 100% American.

Kalbi Burrito

off-topic, but a kalbi burrito sounds delicious - i will try to make that this weekend.

Do you ever eat at the Takorean food truck? It's pretty good.

I realize this is not a federal holiday, but Cesar Chavez day is already a real paid holiday for City of Phoenix workers. I am guessing that Phoenix is not the only place it is already officially recognized.

I believe it is for San Antonio also.

It is a Cali state holiday too, best thing about it is that it is actually celebrated on his birthday, so if it is a Thursday, there hoes any use out of the week.

I used to joke when I was at a Cal State school that only Cesar Chavez and Jesus were actually honored on there birthdays, screw you Washington or MLK. It seemed reasonable in Cali. I remember trying to ecplain Chavez to Chinese students, they always responded along the lines of: so he didn't actually accomplish anything, did he?

It is like some Canadian holiday, beautiful losers and all that.

The next American president that gets assassinated (if any) might get his named holiday.......

Latinos are divided by country.

A Colombian wouldn't necessarily celebrate a holiday for a Mexican.

Barack Obama

I like this answer. People will surely object but it's important to keep in mind that the important things are symbolism and historical reconstructions, not necessarily the details of what a person actually does. If somehow the income gap between black and white Americans is significantly closed over the next several decades, it seems likely to me that the election of Obama will be seen as an important point along that trajectory.

Last I read, Obama had actually reversed the decades-long trend of blacks catching up to whites.

OTOH since whites have lower incomes than Asians and Arabs, maybe they need a holiday too.

I'm not saying it should be Barack Obama, just that it will be Barack Obama. There's really no doubt in my mind. And it will probably be done the next time we have a Democratic President and Congress, which will probably be in 20 years or so.

Don't mean to get into quotas but it would have to replace MLK day. another African American holiday it a no go until other groups get ones.


Perfect, we can make the holiday August 5th, to commemorate his greatest achievement.

We might make our way to a gay rights activist.

Current canonicity is not a requirement - MLK was only one of many major leaders and only got elevated to canonicity once we felt the need to have a single symbolic leader in whom we could vest all of our good will for civil rights. You just need to pick a movement and say "who will we decide, 50 years later, was the saintly leader who was 'in charge'?"

Harvey Milk day, maybe?

If not that then it is a long run - maybe as far away as recognizing the leaders who engineer North American political union 100 years from now.

Chavez's main cause was to improve farm laborer working conditions, which he did by controlling the labor supply (unionizing farm labor and limiting immigration to shrink the pool of workers).

Unionization is not fashionable today, but limiting immigration to keep up unskilled labor rates is, at least among some conservatives.

Chavez would have a national holiday if he had been assassinated in the early '70's. Are there other people whose legacies would have been better secured through a politically-inspired killing?

I've had the idea that we could create a "Heroes Day" wherein each year the holiday would celebrate a different historical figure. There are plenty of genuine heroes that dont rate a holiday in perpetuity, but we would all beneift from a national lesson of their impact to the culture. One year could be Jackie Robinson day, one year could be Susan B. Anthony. Its selection would be somewhat political, but as majorities change in Congress, we'd get a broad swatch of people over the years.

For a date, I propose the third monday in April, which is already a holiday in MA.

It would just turn into a day where everybody tripped all over themselves trying to fellate cop's egos.

My preference is that we copy Canada and declare the first Monday in August a civic holiday.

We should get away from holidays celebrating people and celebrate important events instead. Washington and Lincoln were major figures in history whose accomplishments ensured the country would survive, so it is right to honor them. Unfortunately, their holidays have been combined into the ridiculous "President's Day" so they are honored along with Millard Fillmore, James Bucahanan, and Richard Nixon. Any other holiday for a person is done primarily for political reasons. There is certainly some justification for MLK and Columbus, but personally I think a holiday for the aniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation or the founding of Jamestown would be better. Once you get into a position where an ethnic group gets "its" holiday recognized, then you open the doors for every ethnic group wanting their own.

If an ethnic group wants its own holiday, it should be like St Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo - an unofficial holiday people like to celebrate because it is an excuse to get drunk. Celebrate it yourself, and within time other people might join in.

There are many worthy people that it is right to honor, but what is the criteria for inclusion? There isn't one. It all depends on which group of people become so emotionally attached to one person's memory that they insist others memorialize him too. That emotional attachment could be very well justified, but unless it is universally shared and continues to be throughout the ages, then a national holiday is not the answer. Because of Chicago's large Polish population, there is a local holiday called Casimir Pulaski Day. But why him and not Thaddeus Kosciusko, another Pole? What about all the other foreign volunteers - the better known Lafayette, or Von Steuben or De Kalb?

While I don't think any of these events will ever become a national holiday, I think it would be good if they were: announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, Patriot's Day (commemorating the start of the revolution and recognized locally in New England), the Moon Landing, and the repeal of Prohibition (ok, maybe this one only informally). These are all historically significant events that all Americans can honor and cherish.

I prefer holidays which honor abstract concepts, myself. Any holiday worth its salt is going to become about general concepts in practice, anyway. Christmas is ostensibly about that Jesus guy, but in practice it's about giving and merriment. Independence Day is ostensibly about the signing of the declaration, but in practice it's about patriotism in general. And then you have holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day which went straight for abstract ideals to begin with.

I already posted in this thread that I think Earth Day should get promoted to real holiday, and maybe you could invent a Science Day and find some nice place on the calendar to shove it.

Can we revoke National Holidays and exchange one for a new one. Or consolidating holidays--Lincoln, Wahshington and MLK--into National Patriots Day and then adding more names to the list.

Or, how about moving National Holidays to different dates: create a National Partiots day (by combining the above) and moving one to some other time you would like off.

Good idea.

Who is a patriot?

Kim Kardashian.

Antonio López de Santa Anna -- without him, there's no "Remember the Alamo" and no Texas.

Al Gore.

OK I just said that to piss some people off. I don't think any famous scientist currently fits the bill, but I can imagine futures in which some scientist (maybe in medicine) does something significant enough, and at the same time apolitical enough, to make naming a national holiday after him/her an overall popular feel-good thing to do.

A federal holiday commemorating science/innovation in some way would be consistent with Tyler's concerns that we don't revere creators and scientific innovators enough. They could collapse two other holidays to keep the total number at 10.

Who would yo pick if you had to? It's hard for any one scientist to have the magnitude of effect that gets one a named-holiday.

How about Einstein? He probably meets your conditions.

Yes, good choice. He'd have to be it. Can't think of any others that come even close. Maybe Edison?

I'd cop out and make it "innovation day" so we could have several different innovators. I wanted to choose Edison, but he was born in February which is too close to President's day. I'd prefer it if it was in April or August to space out the holidays.

* Jonas Salk
* Linus Pauling
* A.G. Bell

Maybe no one on my list, individually, would be high enough in the public consciousness to qualify, alone.

As RW Rogers says, Einstein might, but he has been dead for a while, and I am aware of no constituency pushing for Einstein Day. Ditto Edison.

Sadi Carnot, the father of thermodynamics. He's French, of course, so maybe a joint Lafayette / Carnot holiday would work. Say around July 14th.

Why honor a particular scientist? Just have a Science Day. If you want to honor science, just honor science, no need to think of some particular guy to justify the holiday.

I think Tyler's post is pretty disappointing. It implies that the whole MLK celebration, including the holiday and probably the memorial, is just a sop: an opiate for the black masses, if you will. Frankly, the civil rights movement is one of the things that makes me most proud to be American, and the struggles of those days seem to me to be worth commemorating. It's disappointing that Tyler finds it so unworthy of respect.

Holidays are established rather often.

The most recent I recall of particular note is Constitution Day. However, that day, rooted in the history and legacy and meaning of the Constitution does not seem very popular. Perhaps that's because it a day which actually requires it be recognized by certain institutions by action, not going to the beach or slopes. Schools (with Federal funding) are required to incorporate the Constitution into the school curriculum in some fashion, often an optional seminar or celebration, but sometimes included in the class subjects.

I had an old boss who had an idea for Statesman's Day, to celebrate MLK, Benjamin Franklin, etc.

I suppose Jan. 21 is too close to MLK Day for a national holiday.

Well, it's really hard to get a federal holiday named after you. As pointed out above, the only four individuals to have national holidays are Martin Luther King, Jr. , Christopher Columbus, Jesus Christ, and George Washington.

I think it's safe to say that Washington's and Columbus's contributions to American history cannot be duplicated- technically you could have a "First Americans' Day", but that wouldn't go to a specific person.

So it will either go to the founder of a missionary religion which reaches 80%+ of the population and sustains that level long enough to become ingrained in our culture (best guess: Joseph Smith, though that would be a very long way off) or a figure who symbolically represents a movement which brings about the end to what is later seen as a pervasive, civil rights-level injustice in American society (best guess: undetermined figurehead of a successful vegetarian movement).

The next federal holiday not named after a person will probably be either Black Friday for reasons covered by RZ0, the aforementioned First Americans' Day, or Cinco de Mayo.

Fidel Castro who outlasted 10 US Administrations.

Probably whoever is most responsible for the Energy/Space Revolution or the person who cures cancer or discovers how to stop the aging process. Like Columbus and Jesus, this person does not have to be American.

What's the consolation prize for not getting a national holiday named after you?

A post office, federal building, airport, highway, dumpsite, local sewage plant, park bench....

For scientists, especially in the medical and biochemical fields, you know that you've made it when they name a disease after you.

Oh, and if your disease is sifficiently wide-spread and/or attracts attention from the right celebrities, there will be annual Walk-a-thons, Races, Telethons, and Concerts for your disease. An annual Walk-a-thon, in my view, is the true consolation prize for an annual holiday.


High school.

There's an Adali Stevenson High School in a suburb of Detroit.

Ted, This also tells you about the time the school was opened, doesn't it.

We tend to name buildings after those who just died.

You never hear of anyone naming a new school McKinley High School, or Woodrow Wilson High.

Pub, This also gets into an additional question regarding having a disease or discovery named after you:

What is the value of naming rights if you didn't name the discovery after the scientist..

Could you put naming rights up for auction as a way to fund your research, say, if you made a discovery that cured cancer or some disease or affliction.

You could have the Ronald McDonald Leukeimia Drug, or the Best Western Hemhoroid Cream.


im afraid it's coming to that. It already sickens me they sell naming rights to Bowl games and stadiums. It would be different if the company actually owned the stadium.

I almost forgot: they've started naming asteroids and comets after historical persons, e.g., 1841 Masaryk, 4317 Garibaldi, 944 Hidalgo, 3313 Mendel, and 5668 Foucault.

Pub, I'd pay to have a small star named after me, maybe even an asteroid, and possibly even some space waste or debris.

Bill, maybe they could rename 2007 VK184 as "Asteroid Bill" or just "Bill." Then, in a few years, cable news will be discussing, "Is Bill going to kill us all? What are the chances?"


MLK Day shouldn't be celebrated on his birthday in mid January when it 's cold and everybody is holidayed out. It should be moved to celebrate his August 28, 1963 I Have A Dream speech. Make it the Monday before Labor Day Monday, setting up a defacto 10 day vacation period in which workers need use only 4 vacation days. Not much gets done that week right now, anyway.

Call it "I have a dream" day

Hell, this has happened before. I turn on my time machine and the Y2M bug sends me back to the 21st century. Anyway, while I'm here, the correct answer was: Jon Huntsman Day. It's traditional to sit around smoking with the children on Jon Huntsman Day.

Lief Eriksson? (for mid-April, 6 months before Columbus Day)

I wouldn't be opposed to a national holiday for Juneteenth. As a plus, it would pretty much have to be a real holiday with a real, fixed date, not one of those floaty-must-land-on-a-Monday fake ones.

But if we're talking about holidays named for specific people, surely 'Women' rank ahead of 'Latinos' on the waiting list. Unfortunately, most of the more obvious candidates there were born in holiday-rich parts of the year...

侯逸凡 the chess player?

The obvious multicultural libertarian utilitarian equalitarian solution is to have NO holidays in honor of anybody.

Decentralize. Honor your own people in your own way on your own time.

Groundhog Day should become a national holiday with universal observance.

It would be nice if our next holiday were named after an author. How about Ernest Hemingday?

Good luck finding an American (I'm guessing) author who is both (a) sufficiently famous and (b) non-controversial. Hemingway's sympathy for Castro and his suicide might be obstacles, if not necessarily deal-breakers.

From a different angle, how would you explain a preference for any one particular author over other contenders? If Faulkner, why him in stead of Steinbeck? If Steinbeck, why not Mark Twain? Why Twain over Melville, or Melville over Frost? Hawthorne? Updike? Ellison? Morrison?

How do you build momentum with a couple hundred congresscritters for one particular author?

You could try an "Authors' Day," but that's not quite the same, I'm guessing.

this is racist

Ayn Rand? John Galt?

How about Native American Recognition Day?

It isn't politically correct but I would love to see a national version of Utah's Pioneer Day. It would be a great way to honor the Mormons, of course, but every state and every group has had pioneers that we could celebrate.

I also think it would provide some balance to the way history is now being taught. Pre-1900 settlers are either neglected, regarded as having an easy time compared to today's immigrants(!) or vilified as racist imperialist devils.

So my vote goes to some kind of Pioneer Day or Founder's Day celebration.

If Steve Jobs doesn't survive his current health woes, I'm going with him. The followers of the Cult of Apple will get it done.

I might also guess Reagan. He's been raised to somewhat absurdly God-like standards by quite a few people (or at least canonized). But maybe "Presidents day" takes him out of contention.

Or, if the gay rights / marriage equality movement really takes off, there could be something to do with that (although a good chunk of the country would probably throw quite a fit if that happened)...maybe Harvey Milk would get the honor? Having been murdered has to up his chances a bit.

Personally, I believe the next person to receive a national holiday in the U. S. will be an African American. Everywhere we look, we see the African American race growing in one way or another. This may be a good type of growing, such as equal rights movements and what not. However, this may also be a bad type of growing, such as using what was once a horrible cruelty and forced servant hood as a means of overcoming the white population because whites “owe” them. Often times, the “race card” is used in times of misunderstanding and conviction because blacks blame the history of their ancestors’ backgrounds. I believe one day soon, the tables will turn and whites will be using the “race card.” But of course, that is just my opinion.
Back to the national holiday question; I personally believe that Barack Obama will be the next person to receive a day named after him. I do not by any means think he should receive it after causing our nation to crumble and dissolve into a mockery, but I do believe he will. I believe the black population will want to award him for being the first African American president, and they will want to do that by naming a day after him.

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