President Trump issued an executive order regarding Christmas that gives federal employees something they haven’t been given since 1935: the day before Christmas as a paid day off when Christmas falls on a Wednesday.
Trump wrote, “’All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, the day before Christmas Day. The heads of executive departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on Dec. 24, 2019, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need,” as The Daily Mail noted.
The last time a president gave the day off the day before a Wednesday Christmas was when Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the day off, according to Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget Margaret Weichert, reported the Federal News Network, which also noted, “According to the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, the Office of Personnel Management will consider the day off paid and federal employees won’t be charged leave for the day. Employees who had previously scheduled leave for the 24th won’t be charged. Those who can’t reschedule use-or-lose leave before the end of the year will forfeit the time. Employees who work on the 24th will receive holiday premium pay.”
This is the second year in a row President Trump gave federal employees the day off the day before Christmas. Government Executive noted:
In 2013, the last time Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday, President Obama did not opt to give federal employees extra time off. This was “consistent with historical precedent when Christmas has fallen on a Wednesday,” an OPM official told Government Executive, at the time. “The government has remained open on Christmas Eve for six of the last nine times since 1946 that Christmas Day has fallen on a Wednesday.” One exception was in 2002 when President George W. Bush gave employees a half-day.
Trump has taken great pride in defending the value of Christmas; as a presidential candidate in December 2015, he told Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, “You know, you go from one thing to the next to the point where it’s not politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody, or you go to stores and you don’t ever see the word ‘Christmas’ anymore.”
At the Values Voter Summit in September 2015, Trump said, “The word Christmas. I love Christmas. I love Christmas. You go to stores, you don’t see the word Christmas. It says ‘Happy Holidays’ all over. I say, ‘Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores. I want to see Christmas. I want to see Christmas. Other people can have their holidays but Christmas is Christmas. I want to see ‘Merry Christmas.’”