A US federal holiday will be stopped this year as part of a federal crackdown on white supremacists, as part-time US workers are barred from doing so.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday said the holiday will no longer be celebrated at US government agencies such as the US Postal Service and the IRS.
A ban will be put in place in 2019, when the bureau expects to begin the formal transition.
The ban applies to the annual National Thanksgiving Day holiday and the National Christmas Day holiday, which both have been celebrated annually in the US since 1979.
The BLS also said on Friday that people under age 65 who have been employed for at least 12 months will not be allowed to participate in federal government-funded activities on November 22.
White supremacists, who are known as the alt-right, have been known to celebrate Christmas as a way to mark their identity.
The US Department of Justice and the Department of Labor issued a joint statement this week that called on employers to take steps to avoid promoting white supremacy and the “destruction of our nation” by banning the holiday.
The statement said employers must also take steps “to ensure that employees are not allowed to work during National Holidays of Remembrance and National Commemoration”.
“While these actions are intended to promote the public good, they do not represent a determination to maintain a racially hostile workplace environment,” it added.
The White House said on Wednesday it had reached out to the White House counsel’s office to request that the Trump administration “remove” Christmas from the federal holiday calendar.
“President Donald Trump has made clear he values diversity and inclusion and will do everything in his power to protect our country from the harms caused by the spread of hateful and divisive ideologies,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement.
“The White Houses Office of Civil Rights has already worked with the BLS to identify specific actions employers can take to ensure their employees are free to participate and celebrate holidays with their families.”
BLS spokesman Dan Leavitt said on Thursday that the department was not yet finalising the date for the formal phase-out.
White supremacists celebrate Christmas with their cars on December 25 in the parking lot of the New York Stock Exchange.
‘We must unite’It is likely to be a divisive holiday, but it is not a new one.
In November 2015, a group of white supremacists led by Nathan Damigo, a member of the white supremacist American Vanguard, staged a demonstration outside the White Houses residence in Washington DC.
The protesters were confronted by police, who fired tear gas and pepper spray, according to the Washington Post.
Damigo was arrested and charged with assault and resisting arrest.
The following year, an 18-year-old man named Dylann Roof was arrested for allegedly planning to carry out an attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof allegedly told police he had been inspired by the white nationalist group Identity Evropa.
Authorities said Roof shot nine black churchgoers in a rampage that ended with him dead in a hail of bullets.