New Mexico Legal Holidays Laws

Many of us have experienced that moment when we arrive at the post office or the local courthouse and are confused that it’s closed. It’s usually a holiday like Columbus Day that your employer doesn’t give you off and isn’t generally celebrated anymore. To prevent you from awkwardly standing outside a closed state building, take note of the legal holidays in your state.

Columbus Day vs. American Indian Day

Because Columbus Day is at odds with modern American culture, some cities, including Minneapolis and Seattle, have changed the name of the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. New Mexico recognizes American Indian Day on the first February of each year, separately from Columbus Day. American Indian Day recognizes the many contributions to of Native Americans to the economic and cultural heritage of the United States.

New Mexico celebrates the state holidays listed in the chart below.

Code Section New Mexico Statutes Section 12-5-2: Legal Holidays, Designation
Legal Holidays New Mexico celebrates the following state holidays:
  • New Year's Day – January 1st
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday – Third Monday in January
  • Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday or Presidents’ Day – Third Monday in February
  • Memorial Day – Last Monday in May
  • Independence Day – July 4th
  • Labor Day – First Monday in September
  • Columbus Day – Second Monday in October
  • Armistice Day or Veterans’ Day – November 11th, originally Armistice Day celebrated the truce or peace agreement that ended World War I, but now celebrates all veterans, including from more recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Thanksgiving – Fourth Thursday in November, the same as the federal government, although this has changed over time. Between 1863 and 1939, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of November, but since 1941, it’s been the fourth Thursday of November, to support a longer holiday shopping season.
  • Christmas Day – December 25th
Delayed Holidays Whenever a legal public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is when that legal holiday will be celebrated.
Other Recognition Days New Mexico celebrates Arbor Day on the second Friday of March, which is different from the national Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. This may be due to when the best time for tree planting is in New Mexico.

Other holidays in the statutes, though probably not remembered or celebrated by many New Mexico residents, include Ernie Pyle Day on August 3rd, Hemophilia Awareness Day on the second Monday in June, and Hispanic Culture Day on the second Tuesday of February in odd-numbered years. Ernie Pyle Day recognizes the writer and war correspondent and all World War II armed forces members are honored.

Holiday Pay

Unfortunately, not all jobs can take a holiday off, like ER nurses or city bus drivers. Illnesses and accidents don’t know when it’s a holiday. While it’s possible your employer provides you extra pay as an incentive to work on a holiday, even if you have to work it anyway as the newest hire. Sadly, unless you have an employment agreement or union contract that says something different, you aren’t legally entitled to extra pay or overtime if you’re required to work on a holiday in New Mexico.

Note: State laws, including New Mexico law, change regularly, so please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these laws.

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