President Donald Trump has signed an order declaring Christmas Eve to be a holiday for federal workers, the New York Post reported Friday.
“All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Thursday, December 24, 2020, the day before Christmas Day,” read the proclamation signed by the president.
The order continued: “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 December 24, 2020, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.”
Past presidents have issued similar Christmas Eve orders that were less expansive. Former President Bill Clinton reportedly issued a half-day off in 1998, when Christmas Eve also fell on a Thursday, and half days were given by 2009 and 2015 under former President Barack Obama in similar situations, according to the New York Post.
Trump made defending Christmas a prominent part of his 2016 presidential campaign, a fact that conservative columnist Todd Starnes contrasted with the Obama administration’s effort to downplay the holiday’s Christian message.
“During the first year of the Obama administration — the president and first lady considered removing the Nativity from the White House for the sake of inclusivity,” Starnes wrote in a 2017 piece for Fox News.
He cited a New York Times article about former White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers that stated: “When former social secretaries gave a luncheon to welcome Ms. Rogers earlier this year, one participant said, she surprised them by suggesting the Obamas were planning a ‘non-religious Christmas’ — hardly a surprising idea for an administration making a special effort to reach out to other faiths.”
One luncheon attendee was quoted as saying “that the Obamas did not intend to put the manger scene on display — a remark that drew an audible gasp from the tight-knit social secretary sisterhood,” the Times reported.
However, despite a White House official confirming “that there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive,” the Times piece stated that “tradition won out” and the nativity scene ended up in the White House.
“We say it proudly”
At a recent rally in Georgia for Republican U.S. Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, Trump again made note of the fact that Christmas won’t be disregarded in his administration.
“Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Remember the word?” Trump said to the crowd of supporters, as the New York Post reported.
“Remember? We started five years ago, and I said, ‘You’re going to be saying ‘Christmas’ again,'” he continued. “We say it proudly again. Although they’ll be trying to take that word again out of the vocabulary.”