The term “legal holiday” is one we have all seen, if not ourselves utilized, in legal documents. However, what does the term “legal holiday” actually mean? It turns out, it depends on the context. And the differences are rather surprising.
When calculating time periods set forth in statutes, rules, or court orders, Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.514 establishes that “Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation.” The Rule further provides that the term “legal holiday” means:
(A) . . . Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day, and
(B) any day observed as a holiday by the clerk’s office or as designated by the chief judge.
The Rule also provides that a “legal holiday” includes “the day set aside by section 110.117, Florida Statutes, for observing New Year’s Day.” Turning to that statute, if New Year’s Day “falls on Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be observed as a holiday. If [it] falls on Sunday, the following Monday shall be observed as a holiday.” Fla.Stat. 110.117(1)(j).
Okay, so the Rule provides a list of specific dates, some of which are non-intuitive. Moreover, these dates are broadened by the catch-all of “any day observed as a holiday by the clerk’s office or as designated by the chief judge.” Surely these dates would be the same as those listed in the Rule, right? Wrong. For example, in Sarasota County, Presidents’ Day and Christmas Eve are holidays. In Miami-Dade County, Columbus Day is a holiday. In many counties, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have been designated by the Clerk as holidays. In some counties, the day after Christmas is also holiday. Basically, when determining the time periods under Rule 2.514, it pays to check the clerk’s website and any local judicial orders which might establish “legal holidays” not specifically listed in the Rule.
So, you probably now think you know what a “legal holiday” means. Not quite. Although Rule 2.514 establishes the term’s meaning when used in statutes, court rules and orders, a completely different meaning applies in the context of contracts. Florida Statute 683.02, titled “Meaning of term ‘legal holiday’ as used in contracts”, specifically provides that:
Whenever, in contracts to be performed in the state, reference is made to “legal holidays,” the term shall be understood to include those holidays designated in s. 683.01 and such others as may be designated by law.
Id. Turning to Florida Statute 683.01, you will find a long list of holidays that you may have never heard of, let alone considered a “legal holiday.” Some, but not all, of the “legal holidays” listed in Fla.Stat. 683.01 include such days as:
• “Birthday of Robert E. Lee”, January 19;
• “Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday”, February 15;
• “Pascua Florida Day”, April 2;
• “Confederate Memorial Day”, April 26;
• “Birthday of Jefferson Davis”, June 3;
• “Shrove Tuesday” aka “Mardi Gras (but only in counties which have carnival associations to celebrate same); and
• General Election Day.
Turns out, “Pascua Florida Day” is a Florida-only holiday which celebrates the discovery of the State by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. Who knew?
Jesse R. Butler is an associate with the law firm of Dickinson & Gibbons, P.A. in Sarasota, Florida, where he practices civil litigation and appellate law. Jesse serves as an elected representative of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit on the Florida Bar young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, and as President of the Sarasota County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.