Fall on

'Fall on' describes the day of the week a holiday happens

Today's story: Leap years
Explore more: Lesson #653
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Fall on

I have a very quick and easy expression for you today: “fall on.” You’re not going to use this very often, but it does have one very specific application that you should know about.

Some holidays are always on a specific day of the week: Easter is always on a Sunday; American Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday; Ash Wednesday is always on a Wednesday; Good Friday is always—you get the idea.

But many holidays are the same calendar day: Christmas is December 25; New Year’s Day is January 1; my birthday is July 20. (Those are the important ones!) These holidays might be on a Monday, a Thursday, a Sunday—any day of the week.

And “fall on” is how we describe what day of the week is a holiday in a given year. We say a holiday “falls on a” plus a day of the week.

This year, 2024, New Year’s Day fell on a Monday. Christmas and New Year’s always fall on the same day of the week, since they are seven days apart. Back when I was working a traditional job, I always liked it when Christmas and New Year’s fell on a Monday. It just made the time off easier, a whole calendar week, plus a Monday holiday.

But when Christmas and New Year’s fell on a Wednesday, it was awkward. You had two stubs of a week—one at the beginning of the holiday period and one at the end.

Many government holidays are celebrated on the actual day they occur. In the U.S., July 4 is Independence Day. This year, July 4 falls on a Thursday, so people will get Thursday off. Some companies may give you Friday off, too.

When July 4 falls on a Saturday, it’s common to get the previous Friday off as a holiday. When it falls on a Sunday, it’s common to get July 5 off as the holiday.

What about the opposite—instead of a day off, can you imagine having to work an extra day? That’s what happens every February 29. Luckily, this comes only once every four years. This year, 2024, February 29 falls on a Thursday.

Leap years do funny things to holidays, too. In a typical year, a holiday that fell on a Monday last year will fall on a Tuesday this year. This year, 2024, New Year’s Day fell on a Monday; last year, 2023, New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. But the leap year causes annual holidays to skip a day in the sequence. New Year’s Day in 2025 will skip Tuesday and fall on a Wednesday.

See you next time!

Listen, all you salary workers are already working an extra day in 2024, I didn’t want to make you work too hard on an expression, too. So that was an easy one for you—call it a Leap Day present from Plain English.

That is all for us today. This was lesson number 653, so JR has uploaded the full lesson contents to PlainEnglish.com/653. We’ll be back on Monday with a new topic. See you then.

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Story: Leap years