Public holidays in the United States

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The United States does not have national holidays in the sense of days on which all employees in the U.S. receive mandatory a day free from work and all business is halted by law.[1] The U.S. federal government only recognizes national holidays that pertain to its own employees; it is at the discretion of each state or local jurisdiction to determine official holiday schedules. There are eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day).[2]

The annual federal holidays are widely observed by state and local governments; however, they may alter the dates of observance or add or subtract holidays according to local custom. Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (taking effect in 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.[3] There are also U.S. state holidays particular to individual U.S. states, such as Good Friday observed by 12 states.[4]

Malls, shopping centers and most retail stores close only on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but remain open on all other holidays (early closing on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and sometimes on other major holidays).[5] Virtually all companies observe and close on the "major" holidays (New Year's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Some also add the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), most businesses also add religious holiday of Good Friday, and sometimes one or more of the other federal/state holidays.[6]

Contents

Federal holidays

Federal holidays are designated by Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103). Federal holiday is a day off for federal employees, which also means that banks and postal offices are closed. Most private companies and certain other businesses observe federal holidays as well, or the big holidays. If a holiday falls on a Saturday it is celebrated the preceding Friday; if a holiday falls on a Sunday it is celebrated the following Monday. Most, but not all, states and most private businesses also observe a Sunday holiday on the following Monday.

There is no generally accepted policy, however, on whether to observe a Saturday holiday on the preceding Friday or the following Monday. Most states and private businesses may observe on the preceding Friday, some may observe it on the following Monday, and some may not observe the holiday at all in those years. In particular, banks that close on Saturdays do not observe a holiday when it falls on Saturday.

DateOfficial NameRemarks
January 1New Year's DayCelebrates beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to midnight (12:00 AM) on the preceding night, New Year's Eve, often with fireworks display and party. Traditional end of Christmas and holiday season.[7]
Third Monday in JanuaryBirthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.Honors Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights leader, who was actually born on January 15, 1929; combined with other holidays in several states.
First January 20 following a Presidential electionInauguration DayObserved only by federal government employees in Washington, D.C., and the border counties of Maryland and Virginia to relieve congestion that occurs with this major event. Swearing-in of President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Celebrated every fourth year. Note: Takes place on January 21 if the 20th is a Sunday (although the President is still privately inaugurated on the 20th). If Inauguration Day falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday is not a federal holiday.
Third Monday in FebruaryWashington's Birthday/Presidents' DayWashington's Birthday was first declared a federal holiday by an 1879 act of Congress. The Uniform Holidays Act, 1968, shifted the date of the commemoration of Washington's Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February (between February 15 and 21, meaning the observed holiday never falls on Washington's actual birthday). Because of this, combined with the fact that President Abraham Lincoln's birthday falls on February 12, many people now refer to this holiday as "Presidents' Day" and consider it a day honoring all American presidents. However, neither the Uniform Holidays Act nor any subsequent law changed the name of the holiday from Washington's Birthday to Presidents' Day.[8]
Last Monday in MayMemorial DayHonors the nation's war dead from the Civil War onwards; marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season. (traditionally May 30, shifted by the Uniform Holidays Act 1968)
July 4Independence DayCelebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule, also called the Fourth of July. Firework celebrations are held in many cities throughout the nation.
First Monday in SeptemberLabor DayCelebrates the achievements of workers and the labor movement; marks the unofficial end of the summer season.
Second Monday in OctoberColumbus DayHonors Christopher Columbus, traditional discoverer of the Americas. In some areas it is also a celebration of Italian culture and heritage. (traditionally October 12) In some states and municipalities, it is celebrated as Indigenous People's Day as a celebration of the Native Americans, not Columbus.
November 11Veterans DayHonors all veterans of the United States armed forces. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918 (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice).
Fourth Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving DayTraditionally celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. Traditionally includes the sharing of a turkey dinner. Traditional start of the Christmas and holiday season.
December 25ChristmasThe most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christmas customs are millennia old. The mistletoe, for example, comes from the Druids, who, in hanging the mistletoe, hoped for peace and good fortune. Comparatively recent is the Christmas tree, first set up in Germany in the 17th century. Colonial Manhattan Islanders introduced the name Santa Claus, a corruption of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, who lived in fourth-century Asia Minor.[9]

Federal observances

The Congress has designated various United States federal observances—days, weeks, months, and other periods for the observance, commemoration, or recognition of events, individuals, or other topics. These observances do not have the status of holidays in that federal employees do not receive any days free from work for observances.

Good Friday / Easter in the United States

In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday at the federal level; however individual states, counties and municipalities may observe the holiday. Good Friday is a state holiday in Connecticut,[10] Delaware,[11] Florida,[12] Hawaii,[13] Indiana,[14] Kentucky,[15] Louisiana,[16] New Jersey,[17] North Carolina,[18] North Dakota,[19] Tennessee[20] and Texas.[21] State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as some banks and postal offices in these states, and in those counties and municipalities where Good Friday is observed as holiday. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam,[22] the U.S. Virgin Islands[23] and Puerto Rico.[24]

Most private businesses and certain other institutions are closed on Good Friday.[25] The financial market and stock market is closed on Good Friday.[26] Most retail stores remain open, or might close early. Public schools and most universities are closed on Good Friday, either as a holiday of its own, or part of spring break. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.[2]

Easter is recognized as a flag day but has not been a federal holiday due to falling always on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. However, many companies, including banks, malls, shopping centers and most private retail stores normally open on Sundays are closed on Easter.[6]

Other religious, traditional, and informal holidays celebrated in the United States

In addition to the federal/national holidays, many religious, ethnic, and other traditional holidays populate the calendar, as well as observances proclaimed by officials and lighter celebrations. These are rarely observed by businesses as holidays (Except for Easter and most often also on Good Friday);[6] indeed, many are viewed as opportunities for commercial promotion. Because of this commercialization, some critics apply the deprecatory term Hallmark holiday to such days, after the Hallmark greeting card company.

DateNameRemarks
January 6EpiphanyEpiphany (from Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation"), falls on the 12th day after Christmas. It commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the miracle of the wine at the marriage feast at Cana. One of the three major Christian festivals, along with Christmas and Easter. Epiphany originally marked the beginning of the carnival season preceding Lent, and the evening preceding it is known as Twelfth Night.
January 7Orthodox ChristmasJanuary 7 is the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of December 25 on the Julian Calendar still observed by the Russian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches.
January or FebruaryLunar New YearFirst day of the year in the lunar calendar, traditionally used by many East Asian communities.
February 2Groundhog DayThe day on which folklore states that the behavior of a groundhog emerging from its burrow is said to predict the onset of Spring.
February 14Valentine's DaySt. Valentine's Day, or simply Valentine's Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. Modern traditional celebration of love and romance, including the exchange of cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts.[27]
February or March, date variesMardi Gras and Ash WednesdayA festive season (Carnival) leading up to Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Closes with Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays), which starts the penitential season of Lent in the Western Christian calendar.
March 8International Women's DayA day set aside to honor women and their accomplishments in history.
March 17Saint Patrick's DayA holiday honoring Saint Patrick that celebrates Irish culture. Primary activity is simply the wearing of green clothing ("wearing o' the green"), although drinking beer dyed green is also popular. Big parades in some cities, such as in New York City.
April 1April Fools' DayA day that people commonly play tricks or jokes on family, friends, and coworkers, especially in English-speaking nations. Sometimes called "the Feast of All Fools" as a play on the feast days of saints; there is no evidence the holiday has any Christian religious origins.
March/April/May (depends on Hebrew Calendar)PassoverA seven- or eight-day festival in Judaism that is also observed by some Christian churches instead of Easter. It commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. For Karaite Jews, Passover is the holiest day of the year and is the festival that marks the beginning of the year.
Sunday before EasterPalm SundayCelebration to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
The Friday before (western) EasterGood FridayFriday of Holy Week, when Western Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Good Friday is a holiday in some individual counties and municipalities, as well as a state holiday in Connecticut,[10] Delaware,[11] Florida,[12] Hawaii,[13] Indiana,[14] Kentucky,[15] Louisiana,[16] New Jersey,[17] North Carolina,[18] North Dakota,[19] Tennessee[20] and Texas.[21] State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as state-chartered banks and in these jurisdictions. Federal banks and post offices that are located in buildings that close for Good Friday and Easter will also be closed but not in formal observance of the holiday. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam,[22] U.S. Virgin Islands[23] and Puerto Rico.[24] Many public and private schools; some colleges, universities and private-sector businesses; and financial markets are closed on Good Friday.
Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, date varies from March 22 to April 25, inclusive (see Computus),EasterCelebration of the resurrection of Jesus in most Western Christian churches. A minority of Protestant churches do not observe Easter. Eastern Orthodox (including Western Rite), Oriental Orthodox and some Neo-Celtic churches observe Easter according to a different calendar, usually on a later Sunday (thus they also observe Palm Sunday and Good Friday on different days than Western Christians).

Many Americans decorate hard-boiled eggs and give baskets of candy, fruit, toys and so on, especially to children; but gifts of age-appropriate Easter baskets for the elderly, the infirm and the needy are increasingly popular. An annual Easter Egg Roll has been held on the White House South Lawn for young children on Easter Monday since President Hayes started the tradition in 1878.[28] Not a federal holiday because of the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion, and because it is always on Sunday. Many companies that are normally open on Sunday close for Easter but that is increasingly not the case.[6]

April 22 (varies by location and observance)Earth DayA celebration of environmentalism.
Last Friday in AprilArbor DayA day for planting trees.
May 1May DayIn most other countries, May 1 is International Workers' Day, the equivalent of Labor Day, and some Americans do observe May 1 in that context. But before it was a labor-related holiday, May Day was a Celtic and English holiday that celebrated the transition from Spring to Summer, and it is that holiday that those Americans and Canadians who still celebrate May Day call to mind.
May 5Cinco de MayoPrimarily a celebration of Mexican culture by Mexican-Americans living in the United States. Although this is the anniversary of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, Cinco de Mayo is far more important in the USA than in Mexico itself, often celebrated even by non-Mexican-Americans. Additionally, this "holiday" is often mistaken by Americans as being Mexican Independence Day, which is actually observed on September 16.
Second Sunday in MayMother's DayHonors mothers and motherhood (made a "federal holiday" by Presidential order, although most federal agencies are already closed on Sundays)
June 14Flag DayCommemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, in 1777.
Third Sunday in JuneFather's DayHonors fathers and fatherhood.
August 26Women's Equality DayCelebrates the fight for, and progress towards, equality for women. Established by the United States Congress in 1971 to commemorate two anniversaries: Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ensuring Woman Suffrage in 1920 and a nation-wide demonstration for equal rights, the Women's Strike for Equality, in 1970.
September 11Patriot DayCommemorates the attacks on the World Trade Center (New York City) and the Pentagon (Washington, DC) in 2001.
September 17Constitution/Citizenship DayCommemorates the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar)Rosh HashanahObserved by Jewish people. Traditional beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. It also celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar.
September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar)Yom KippurObserved by Jewish people.

This day marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is described in Leviticus as a "Sabbath of rest," and synagogue services begin the preceding sundown, resume the following morning, and continue to sundown.

October 31HalloweenOriginally the end of the Celtic year, it now celebrates Eve of All Saint's Day. Decorations include jack o'lanterns. Costume parties and candy such as candy corn are also part of the holiday. Kids go "trick-or-treating" to neighbors who give away candy. Not generally observed by businesses.
First Tuesday after the first Monday in NovemberElection DayObserved by the federal and state governments in applicable years; legal holiday in some states.
Day After ThanksgivingBlack FridayTraditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. "Black Friday" is not a holiday under that name, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees. Virtually all schools, colleges and universities are also closed, along with many non-retail private sector businesses. Federal government offices, post offices and federally-chartered banks must open on Black Friday (unless the President issues an executive order or proclamation allowing them to close). It is called "Black Friday" because it begins the sales period when most American retailers make their profits for the year. Contrary to popular belief, Black Friday is not the busiest sales day of the year (that honor belongs to Christmas Eve, December 24). Rather, it is the barometer by which retailers are able to gauge December sales and whether they will indeed end the year "in the black" (instead of "in the red"). A busy Black Friday almost invariably indicates a busy shopping season, while poor sales on Black Friday usually herald a very slow season.
November/December/January (depends on Hebrew calendar)HanukkahAn eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.
December 7Pearl Harbor Remembrance DayDay to mourn the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
December 8Immaculate Conception of the Virgin MaryImmaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that the Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin from her moment of conception. Companies in some states will give day off to their employees.
December 24Christmas EveDay before Christmas Day. Virtually every business closes early, though a few remain open 24 hours.
December 26 through January 1KwanzaaAfrican American holiday celebration created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga
December 31New Year's EveFinal Day of the Gregorian year. Usually accompanied by much celebration, such as party and fireworks. Virtually every company and retail outlet closes early, except for stores that sell alcoholic beverages and party supplies.

Legal holidays by states

State3rd Monday in JanuaryFebruary 4February 123rd Monday in FebruaryFebruary 15March 31Variable date in AprilApril 163rd Monday in AprilVariable date1st Monday in June2nd Monday in OctoberTuesday after 1st Monday in November (in even-numbered years)Friday after 4th Thursday in NovemberDecember 24December 26December 31
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day[a]Rosa Parks DayLincoln's BirthdayWashington's Birthday[b]Susan B. Anthony DayCésar Chávez DayGood FridayEmancipation DayPatriots' DayConfederate Memorial DayJefferson Davis DayColumbus DayGeneral Election DayDay after ThanksgivingChristmas EveNew Year's Eve
 Alabama[29]Yes
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
NoNoYes
(with Jefferson's Birthday)
NoNoNoNoNoFourth Monday in AprilYesYes
(with Fraternal Day and American Indian Heritage Day)
NoNoNoYesYes
 Alaska[30]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 Arizona[31]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Arkansas[32]Yes
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
NoNoYes
(with Daisy Gatson Bates Day)
NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
 California[33]YesYesNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 Colorado[34]YesNoNoYesNoOptional holidayNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Connecticut[35]YesNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Delaware[36]YesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
 District of Columbia[37]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Florida[38]YesNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
 Georgia[39]YesNoNoDecember 24NoNoNoNoNoApril 26 (observed on fourth Monday in April)NoYesNoRobert E. Lee DayWashington's BirthdayNoNo
 Hawaii[40]YesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNo
 Idaho[41]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Illinois[42]YesNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
 Indiana[43]YesNoDay after Thanksgiving December 24NoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesLincoln's BirthdayWashington's BirthdayNoNo
 Iowa[44]YesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
 Kansas[45]YesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 Kentucky[46]YesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
 Louisiana[47]YesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNo
 Maine[48]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNo
 Maryland[49]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNative American Heritage DayNoNoNo
 Massachusetts[50]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Michigan[51]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
 Minnesota[52]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo[c]NoYes[c]NoNoNo
 Mississippi[53]Yes
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
NoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoLast Monday in AprilLast Monday in May (with Memorial Day)NoNoNoNoNoNo
 Missouri[54]YesNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Montana[55]YesNoYesYes
(with Lincoln's Birthday)
NoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
 Nebraska[56]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNo
 Nevada[57]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoFamily DayNoNoNo
 New Hampshire[58]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo[d]No[d]YesNoNoNo
 New Jersey[59]YesNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
 New Mexico[60]YesNoNoDay after ThanksgivingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoWashington's Birthday[a]NoNoNo
 New York[61]YesNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
 North Carolina[62]YesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
 North Dakota[63]YesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 Ohio[64]YesYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Oklahoma[65]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNo
 Oregon[66]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 Pennsylvania[67]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNo
 Rhode Island[68]NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 South Carolina[69]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoMay 10NoNoNoNoNoNoNo
 South Dakota[70]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes Native American DayNoNoNoNoNo
 Tennessee[71]YesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
 Texas[72]YesNoNoYesNoOptional holidayYesNoNoConfederate Heroes Day on January 19 (partial staffing holiday)NoNoNoYesYesYesNo
 Utah[73]YesNoNoYes
(with Lincoln's Birthday)
NoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Vermont[74]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
 Virginia[75]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNo
 Washington[76]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
 West Virginia[77]YesNoNoYesOn even-numbered Election DayNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYesOne half dayNoOne half day
 Wisconsin[78]YesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNoYes
 Wyoming[79]YesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo

^ a. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is known officially as Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona,[31] and New Hampshire,[58] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Arkansas,[32] Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Florida,[38] and Maryland,[49] Martin Luther King Jr. / Idaho Human Rights Day in Idaho,[41] and Martin Luther King's and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Mississippi.[53]

^ b. Washington's Birthday is known officially as President's Day in Alaska,[30] California,[33] Colorado,[34] Hawaii,[40] Idaho,[41] Maryland,[49] Nebraska,[56] New Hampshire,[58] Ohio,[64] Oregon,[66] Tennessee,[71] Washington,[76] West Virginia,[77] and Wyoming,[79] Lincoln/Washington/Presidents' Day in Arizona,[31] George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day in Arkansas,[32] Presidents' Day in Hawaii,[40] Massachusetts,[50] New Mexico,[60] Oklahoma,[65] South Dakota,[70] Texas,[72] and Vermont,[74] Washington's Birthday/President's Day in Maine,[48] Presidents Day in Michigan,[51] Minnesota,[52] Nevada,[57] and New Jersey,[59] Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday in Montana,[55] Recognition of the birthday of George Washington in North Dakota,[63] Washington and Lincoln Day in Utah,[73] and George Washington Day in Virginia.[75]

^ c. Day after Thanksgiving is observed in lieu of Columbus Day in Minnesota.[52]

^ d. Columbus Day is listed as a state holiday in New Hampshire although state offices remain open.[58]

Legal holidays observed nationwide

Other holidays locally observed

Non-holiday notable days

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b http://www.opm.gov/operating_status_schedules/fedhol/2012.asp
  3. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Monday_Holiday_Act
  4. ^ http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0002069.html
  5. ^ http://www.mallofamerica.com/shopping/hours
  6. ^ a b c d http://www.toolkit.com/small_business_guide/sbg.aspx?nid=P05_4375
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  22. ^ a b http://www.qppstudio.net/publicholidays2012/guam.htm
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  80. ^ Section 1-3-8

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