Ken Jennings


January 19, 2009

Today is a federal holiday in the U.S., in honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday. “It’s not really his birthday,” sniffed Dylan, who had gotten the historical scoop in kindergarten, when I suggested we bake Dr. King a cake. (The slain civil rights leader was born January 15, but his namesake holiday is always a Monday.)

Tomorrow is also a federal holiday…in Washington, D.C., anyway. Inauguration Day is officially a federal holiday every four years, but only for workers in the District of Columbia and environs.

My question: is this the first time in the history of the Republic that (some) federal workers have ever enjoyed two Congressionally-mandated days off in a row? I can’t think of other federal holidays that can fall on consecutive days, and I’d have to look at how the leap years shake out but it seems unlikely that there’s been a Tuesday Inauguration Day since the 1980s, when Dr. King’s birthday was made a new holiday. (A Sunday Inauguration Day wouldn’t cut it; there’s no “in-lieu-of” holiday when this one falls on a weekend.)

Enjoy your two days off, some small percentage of federal workers! What is this, Europe?

Edited to add: This blogger does the research I was too lazy to do myself and confirms that this is the first time two regularly scheduled federal calendar holidays have fallen together, but notes that I forgot federal holidays of presidential proclamation.

Posted by Ken at 11:48 am