MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A lot of you might remember the big fight as to whether Martin Luther King Jr. Day was worthy of national celebration.

So what does it take to become a federal holiday? Good Question.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation that made Martin Luther King’s birthday the newest federal holiday.

Congress has the power to declare something a federal holiday. The government is a huge employer, and all a holiday officially does is give those workers the day off. The same, however, can’t be said for the workers of private companies; the government can’t dictate the days on which they do business.

That’s why, essentially, there are so few federal holidays. They are very expensive for the government.

But that doesn’t keep lawmakers from proposing them. Over the years, more than 1,100 different proposals for federal holidays have been floated.

Some congressmen want Native Americans’ Day, others proposed Susan B. Anthony Day. And making Election Day a holiday is an idea many think would get more of us to vote.

Jason DeRusha

Comments (14)
  1. Ace says:

    Have as many federal holidays as you want but don’t have any more paid holidays, why should government workers have so many paid holidays and the rest of us do not but we, the taxpayers, are paying for it. I resent it when it’s a federal holiday but I have to get up and go to work while others are getting paid and they can stay home or do what they want. It stinks!

    1. Poor Ace says:

      It’s not fair Ace. Try going into business for yourself and then you won’t have to worry about other people.

  2. allan says:

    Sadly, the only thing that the MLK holiday accomplishes is another chance for Afro Americans to fight and argue at these marches and rallies. Just saw video of what went on in Tulsa and Detroit. Fighing, stabbings, shootings. It can’t be stopped for even one day. Pretty sad.

  3. Nancy Aleshire says:

    Why is Columbus Day a federal holiday? It hasn’t always been and what has Christopher Columbus done for this country? He did keep slaves and mistreated Native Americans. Why not substitute Election Day insteadl

    1. Aaron says:

      It hasn’t always been a federal holiday, but it has since 1937.

  4. Bill says:

    I was wondering what the one and only Cruise ship company registered in the US was?

  5. T from Faribault says:

    Why isn’t MLK day in February since that is when Black History month occurs?

    1. Ask wcco says:

      Good question.

    2. Aaron says:

      MLK Day is in January since that is when Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was. And actually, the official name of the holiday is Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  6. Cecil Nolan Mallery says:

    I grew up in MS. I recall celebrating Good Friday as a school holiday and I thought it was a federal holiday. Please refresh my memories with the facts. I was born in 1939.