The major holidays Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Independence Day take place each year on the third Monday of January and on July 4, respectively. Thanksgiving takes place on the fourth Thursday of each November.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. The holiday is named after late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. Its observance takes place roughly around the time of his birthday.
Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. While the holiday has always been celebrated in some fashion since 1777, it did not become a paid federal holiday until 1938.
Thanksgiving has existed since 1621, when members of the Plymouth Colony celebrated the harvest with local Wampanoag Indians. Many states observed a Thanksgiving Holiday by the mid-1800s, but the date of the holiday was not set in stone until President Abraham Lincoln declared it as the last Thursday in November in his "Thanksgiving Proclamation." President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to change the date of the holiday to the third Thursday of November in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, but Congress passed a joint resolution in 1941 that decreed that Thanksgiving remain the fourth Thursday of each November.