Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day marks the date in which the elected president and vice-president of the United States are sworn in for four-year terms. It occurs on January 20th every four years, and directly after the November presidential election. The elected president’s new term begins at noon EST on January 20th.


Inauguration Day is mandated by the 20th Amendment. Prior to the amendment being added to the Constitution, a president’s new term took place on March 4th. This old date was chosen to commemorate the birth of the Constitution in 1789. The 20th Amendment also requires that the elected president takes an oath in an official ceremony. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to follow the new law at the start of his second term on January 20, 1937.

The public inauguration always takes place at the Congressional building. Attendees include former presidents, justices of the Supreme Court, members of Congress and military officials. The swearing-in ceremony has been televised on television since 1949 when President Truman delivered his address. Inauguration Day was first streamed on the Internet during President Clinton’s inauguration in 1997.

Types of Celebrations

The types of celebrations conducted during Inauguration Day have come and gone. Officially, the swearing-in and address on the part of the elected president are all that is required. All other celebration plans are left up to the president as well as the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Traditionally there is a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol Building to the White House. Most Inauguration Day ceremonies conclude with a dinner and dance.


While Inauguration Day is an important holiday related to the U.S. government, it isn’t recognized as a federal holiday. The exception is Washington D.C., where the date is a federal holiday in order to help clear the way for people to enjoy the anticipated celebrations at the nation’s capital. Local governments, public schools and organizations in other states generally stay open on this day. Such circumstances are similar to that of Election Day.

The official holiday falls on one single day, but celebrations usually take place during the surrounding weeks. For this reason, visitors to Washington, D.C. may find it difficult to navigate around smoothly over the second half of January of inauguration year.

U.S. citizens get to enjoy the right to free speech. In some instances, this has evolved into protests on Inauguration Day from citizens who disapprove of the newly elected president. Protests have increased steadily since the turn of the century as American politics have become more divided. Unfortunately, some protests have turned violent so security is at a heightened alert on every Inauguration Day to help keep the peace.

Special Circumstances for 2013

In 2013, the traditional Inauguration Day is slated for observance on January 20th. However, since this date falls is on Sunday, the public ceremonies and celebrations won’t take place until Monday, January 21st. This is the same date as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is a federal holiday. The last time the two holidays coincided was during the second inauguration of President Clinton on January 20, 1997. President Obama will still be sworn in for his second term on January 20th, but it will be a private ceremony on that Sunday.

By: Kristeen Moore