There is always controversy among students or employees of any institution over what days are given on or off. With the passing of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, some students have felt the University makes a statement by consistently having classes on this holiday. But that begs the question, how do institutions decide which days are designated as holidays?


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) lists the following holidays as standard paid holidays for many businesses in America:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day


Conversely, the federal holiday schedule that all government-owned institutions operate on has a few more. They are Martin Luther King Day, George Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. The only day that is recommended by the SHRM that is not federally observed is the day after Thanksgiving.


Here are the days that the University of Redlands has off in its 2018-2019 academic calendar:

  • Oct. 9-10, Study Days
  • Nov. 22-27, Thanksgiving Break
  • Dec. 12
  • Dec. 18-January 8, Winter Break
  • Feb. 26-March 2, Spring Break


Interestingly enough, though the University of Redlands does not recognize Columbus day, also known as Indigenous People’s Day, as a holiday, the day Oct. 8, is still given off as part of the fall “study days.” Thanksgiving Day and the day after are included (obviously) during Thanksgiving Break, as is standard practice for both SHRM and the federal government. Winter break includes the holidays of Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Years Eve and Day and the last two days of Hanukkah.


I momentarily skipped Dec. 12 because it led to an interesting question: are there any holidays that correspond with this day? My initial reaction was no, there are no widely observed holidays on this day, certainly not any that correspond with SHRM guidelines or federally observed holidays. But to say no holidays fall on Dec. 12 would be a lie.


The feast of Masá’il, the first day of the Bahá’í calendar falls on the 12th. So does Jamhuri Day, the celebration of Kenyan independence from Britain, Ground Forces Day in Ukraine, Kanji Day in Japan, Neutrality Day in Turkmenistan and eight separate Christian feast days.


I think this gets to the heart of the issue of what holidays are observed or not. Every single day of the year is religiously or culturally sacred to one person or another. Many people go to work on personal religious or cultural holidays, while many people have days off that bear no significance to them.


In America, typically observed holidays are very Judeo-Christian in orientation. The only religious holiday that either SHRM guidelines or the federal government observes (and both do) is Christmas. Unsurprisingly, most of the other holidays these institutions observe are somehow related to American culture, be it Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day or Columbus Day.


I do not think there is an easy solution for universal appeasement when it comes to religious holidays and I think it is important to remember having personal holidays off is a privilege. Not everyone has the comfort of knowing they will be able to observe sacred days like Christmas without a hitch and many people accept that their personally significant holidays will go unnoticed.


Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Miracle Cariaga.