Christmas is the annual celebration to remember the birth of Jesus. It is widely observed throughout the world and billions of people celebrate this holiday each year. It is generally held on December 25, but it is also celebrated in January in certain countries. Christmas is a time of many traditions including gift giving, decorations (including Christmas trees and lights), festive meals, beverages and many others. Christmas is also an official Federal holiday and most businesses close for this important occasion. Christmas has been celebrated for centuries, but Christmas has not always been an official holiday. Let’s find out when Christmas became a government holiday in the United States.
When did Christmas become an official government holiday?
The bill to create an official holiday for Christmas dates back to June 1870. It was presented to the House of Representatives by the Republican Burton Chauncey Cook (from Illinois). It was approved by the House of Representatives on June 24, 1870 and at this time it was passed onto the Senate. The two houses took some time to agree on the wording of the bill, but once an agreement had been reached it was passed onto President Ulysses S. Grant who signed it on June 28, 1870 – making Christmas an official Federal holiday for the first time.
The official wording of this act of Congress follows:
“An Act making the first Day of January, the twenty-fifth Day of December, the fourth Day of July, and Thanksgiving Day, Holidays, within the District of Columbia. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following days, to wit: The first day of January, commonly called New Year’s day, the fourth day of July, the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day, and any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving, shall be holidays within the District of Columbia, and shall, for all purposes of presenting for payment or acceptance of the maturity and protest, and giving notice of the dishonor of bills of exchange, bank checks and promissory notes or other negotiable or commercial paper, be treated and considered as is the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, and all notes, drafts, checks, or other commercial or negotiable paper falling due or maturing on either of said holidays shall be deemed as having matured on the day previous. APPROVED, June 28, 1870 by President Ulysses S. Grant.”