There are many religious holidays spanning the spring season from March to May that celebrate liberation, new beginnings and the end of winter.
None of them are observed by the federal government, though there are workarounds available for the observant.
For Christians, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Bible. Easter culminates Holy Week or Passion Week in Christianity and follows other holy days including Ash Wednesday and Lent in February. Easter usually falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. A week before, before, Christians all over the world observe Good Friday.
Easter always falls on a Sunday, though the date changes each year. In 2023, Easter will be observed on April 9. Other important days for Christians include Palm Sunday on April 2.
The Jewish holiday of Purim begins on March 6 and continues through March 7 and celebrates the saving of the Jews living in ancient Persia. On this holiday, it is tradition for children to dress up in costume. Then, on April 5, the important holiday of Passover begins for a week after a special family meal called a seder is held on the first night.
For Hindus, Holi — also known as the festival of colors — on March 8 is an important religious celebration of the victory of good over evil and of the transition from winter to spring.
For those of the Bahai’i faith, Naw Ruz is celebrated on March 21 as a welcoming of the new year.
For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan begins on March 22 and ends on April 21. It’s a time for those who observe to practice self-discipline in keeping with one of the pillars of Islam and is most often shown through fasting.
As for federal employees, none of the above are paid holidays. The next observed federal holiday is Memorial Day on Monday, May 29. However, the stock markets recognize Good Friday as a holiday and will be closed on April 7.
How does OPM’s holiday time work?
There are 11 federal holidays recognized by the Office of Personnel Management. On these days, all non-essential government employees are off work, and most government offices are closed.
For religious observances outside of that list, OPM says an employee must be allowed to work alternate hours to accommodate taking that time off.
“An employees request for time off should not be granted without simultaneously scheduling the hours during which the employee will work to make up the time,” its guidance says.
Religious compensatory time off may be earned within 13 pay periods before or after the period in which it is intended to be used.
OPM also tells agencies they are not to make any judgment about the employee’s religion or affiliation during this process.
Easter celebrations are a White House tradition
In Washington, D.C., Easter is well known for drawing children and families to the South Lawn of the White House for the annual egg hunt and roll.
That tradition dates back to the 1870s, and as it became more popular, Congress observed the rolling of children and eggs on the manicured lawn took a toll on it. In 1876, Congress legislatively banned the Capitol grounds from being used “as a children’s playground,” but President Rutherford B. Hayes nullified that two years later.
This year, the White House will announce ticket lottery information a few weeks before Easter.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.