For those who rely on memory only, our federal holidays are not really related to the actual date of the event--at least in most cases.
Washington's birthday, for example, is not on February 17th, the date we celebrate the holiday. It is actually on February 22nd. For anyone who thought February 22nd of this year was a holiday to celebrate Washington's birthday, that is a mistake.
But, given a choice between a three day weekend and celebrating an event on the actual date of occurrence, Congress has chosen the three day weekend. Perhaps Congress was just trying to make people happy by giving them a few extra three day weekends. In the case of holidays honoring individuals, they cannot vote anyway and, in actuality, it is all about the votes in the final analysis.
Here is the 2014 federal holiday schedule:
Wednesday, January 1: New Year’s Day
Monday, January 20: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 17: * Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 26: Memorial Day
Friday, July 4: Independence Day
Monday, September 1: Labor Day
Monday, October 13: Columbus Day
Tuesday, November 11: Veterans Day
Thursday, November 27: Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, December 25: Christmas Day
Here are some of the actual dates we are celebrating with these holidays. With some holidays, the actual origin is a mixture of various cultures and anecdotal evidence.
Martin Luther King's birthday is observed on the third Monday of January each year. His actual birthday is January 15.
Memorial Day is observed on the final Monday of May each year.
Independence Day is always on July 4th and is the national day of the United States.
Labor Day is the first Monday in September. It is celebrated in September rather than May 1st (International Workers' Day) because President Cleveland was concerned about the May 1st being too close and recognizing a bombing that occurred during a labor union demonstration in Chicago in May 1886.
Columbus Day is celebrated annually on the second Monday of October. It celebrates Christopher Columbus' arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492.
Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th each year. It remembers the temporary cessation of the war between the Allied nations and Germany which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.
Christmas is celebrated on December 25th each year as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday.