In an executive order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 11, 2020, the 45th commander in chief ordered that Christmas Eve 2020 be designated as a federal holiday, excusing federal employees from duty on the day before Christmas Day.
The order read that “all executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government” be closed, and their employees excused from duty on Dec. 24, but that certain offices may remain open for “reasons of national security, defense, or other public need” as determined by the heads of executive departments and agencies.
Though Christmas Day is considered one of 10 federal holidays by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Christmas Eve has not generally been designated as such. However, the president can issue an executive order to give federal workers the day off. Following similar announcements in 2018 and 2019, the 2020 move marked the third time Trump has opted to designate Christmas Eve as a federal holiday.
Trump isn’t the first president to issue a day off on the days before or after the Christmas Day holiday. He joined Franklin Roosevelt as one of two sitting presidents to relieve a full eight-hour workday.
The following presidents issued four-hours of time off on Christmas Eve:
- Harry Truman: Executive Order 10019 issued on Dec. 2, 1948.
- Dwight Eisenhower: Executive Order 10508 issued on Dec. 14, 1953.
- Dwight Eisenhower: Executive Order 10856 issued on Dec. 3, 1959.
- Richard Nixon: Executive Order 11573 issued on Dec. 21, 1970.
- Ronald Reagan: Executive Order 12619 issued on Dec. 22, 1987.
- Bill Clinton: Executive Order 13109 issued on Dec. 17, 1998.
- Barack Obama: Executive Order 15323 issued on Dec. 11, 2009.
- Barack Obama: Executive Order 13713 issued on Dec. 11, 2015
Obama also issued an executive order granting Dec. 26, 2014, as a federal holiday.
This designation may or may not extend to employees in the private sector. Private employers are not legally required to observe national holidays, and granting paid time off is a matter of internal policy.