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Christmas in 1776: George Washington

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Christmas Becomes National Holiday

28 June 1870

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Not until 1870 was Christmas considered a national holiday. Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, signed a bill into law, HR 2224, making Christmas, New Year's Day, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving national holidays. the bill had been introduced by Illinois Congressman Burton Chauncey Cook.


An Act 


Making the first day of January, the twenty-fifth day of December, the fourth day of July, and Thanksgiving Day, Holidays, within the District of Columbia.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following days, to wit: The first day of January, commonly called New Year's day, the fourth day of July, the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day, and any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving, shall be holidays within the District of Columbia, and shall, for all purposes of presenting for payment or acceptance of the maturity and protest, and giving notice of the dishonor of bills of exchange, bank checks and promissory notes or other negotiable or commercial paper, be treated and considered as is the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, and all notes, drafts, checks, or other commercial or negotiable paper falling due or maturing on either of said holidays shall be deemed as having matured on the day previous.

APPROVED, June 28, 1870 by President Ulysses S. Grant.

“Congress officially recognized Christmas as a legal holiday [on June 28] 1870 … after 33 states had already done so.”