U.S. law provides for the declaration of selected public observances by the President of the United States as designated by Congress or by the discretion of the President. Generally the President will provide a statement about the purpose and significance of the observance, and call on the people of the United States to observe the day "with appropriate ceremonies and activities". These events are typically to honor or commemorate a public issue or social cause, ethnic group, historic event or noted individual. However, (with several exceptions) there is no requirement that government or business close on these days, and many members of the general public may not be aware that such holidays even exist. Holidays proclaimed in this way may be considered a U.S. "national observance", but it would be improper to refer to them as "federal holidays". Many of these observances designated by Congress are authorized under permanent law under Title 36, U.S. Code, in which cases the President is under obligation to issue an annual proclamation.
In addition to annual commemorative events, the President may proclaim a day or period designated for mourning or prayer after the death of noted officials including U.S. Presidents and Chief Justices of the United States or after major tragic events or disasters with serious casualties.
The policy of issuing proclamations calling for the observance of special days or events is in 1 CFR Section 19.4, which allows for the responsibility for the preparation and presentation of proposed proclamations calling for the observance of special days, or events to the Director of Management and Budget to such agencies as deemed appropriate. Proposed proclamations shall be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the specified observance, with any approved commemorative proclamations transmitted to the President.
^Presidential Proclamations Project, University of Houston. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)