What Holidays Does Texas Recognize?

Texas recognizes 9 separate federal holidays and 8 state specific holidays where employees are free to take the day off of work. We'll go through those holidays and explain the circumstances in which Texas employees may still be required to work.

Table of Contents

The official state code for officially recognized holidays can be found in Chapter 662 of the Government Code. We’ll begin with the nationally recognized federal holidays recognized by the State, and then we’ll get into special state holidays that are unique specifically to the lone star state. Finally, we’ll include “optional holidays” which are recognized by the state but come with certain limitations and restrictions. Remember, especially when reading official guidelines, that this is not to be confused with Recognized Holidays (final section) which are merely holidays recognized by the State that has virtually no impact on employment rights.

Federally Recognized Holidays

As promised, we’re going to first go over the federal holidays which should be familiar to everyone. It is a myth that the state of Texas does not recognize holidays such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or Yom Kippur but the latter comes with an asterisk.

(1) The first day of January, New Year’s Day.

(2) The third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(3) Presidents’ Day, which is recognized on the third Monday in February.

(4) Memorial Day which is recognized last Monday in May.

(5) Independence Day which is recognized on July 4th every year.

(6) Labor Day which is recognized on the first Monday in September,

(7) November 11th, otherwise known as Veterans Day, is dedicated to the cause of world peace and to honor the veterans of all wars in which Texans and other Americans have fought.

(8) Thanksgiving Day is recognized on the fourth Thursday in November.

These are the nine federal holidays but we also have State recognized holidays and three “optional holidays” to get to.

State Recognized Holidays in Texas

The following list is of State Recognized holidays. These are holidays that are specific to the state of Texas and not observed in other states in the Union.

(1) The 19th day of January, Confederate Heroes Day, in honor of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and other Confederate heroes.

(2) The second day of March, Texas Independence Day.

(3) The 21st day of April, San Jacinto Day.

(4) The 19th day of June, Emancipation Day in Texas, in honor of the emancipation of the slaves in Texas in 1865.

(5) The 27th day of August, Lyndon Baines Johnson Day, in observance of the birthday of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

(6) The Friday after Thanksgiving Day.

(7) The 24th day of December.

(8) The 26th day of December.

Optional Holidays

Optional holidays are state-recognized holidays that come with stipulations that the other holidays do not. Such days have to adhere to a certain set of requirements which we’ll get to below. Remember that this only applies to employees that work for the state. Your employee, if you’re not a state employee, is not required or limited to these restrictions.

Optional Holiday Restrictions

The above-mentioned restrictions are as follows according to Texas state law. We will update if this changes but for now they are as follows:

(1) The holiday does not fall on a Saturday or Sunday.

(2) The employee agrees to give up, during the same fiscal year, a state holiday that does not fall on a Saturday or a Sunday.

(2) The holiday is not restricted by the General Provisions Act. Essentially Texas has a General Provisions Act that, as part of the law, explicitly rejects certain laws from being observed by employees of state agencies.

List of Optional Holidays

The list of holidays that fall into this “optional” category include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Good Friday. The observation of those days, that is only the days on which the holiday falls, is considered acceptable to take a paid day off.

Recognition Days

Recognition days are days that are officially recognized by the state legislator but are not classified as ‘holidays’ according to the state. The fundamental distinction here is the question of whether or not State employees get a paid day off. For days that are “Recognized”, there is no impact on whether or not you are allowed to take a day off. Then why have them? The state uses these days to draw attention and recognition to some achievement, political or otherwise, that the legislature wants to call attention to.

For example, January 6th is Sam Rayburn Day for Texas native Sam Raybun. Who, for 17 years, served in the powerful position of Speaker of the House the longest in United States history. Similarly, November 3rd every year is recognized as “Father of Texas Day” which memorialized Texas legend Stephen F. Austin.

The Government Code also recognizes Awareness Months and Awareness Weeks all with a similar purpose and utility. The most recent addition was the creation of Mental Health Condition and Substance Use Disorder Parity Awareness Month. Recognized every October starting in 2021, this month serves to “increase awareness of and compliance with state and federal rules, regulations, and statutes concerning the availability of, and terms and conditions of, benefits for mental health conditions and substance use disorders.”