Inauguration Day is celebrated in the USA once every four years on January 20th. It is held just after the presidential elections and marks the inauguration of the new terms of office of the president and vice-president officially. The United States Constitution mandates the President to make an oath before he can officially "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency. However, over the years, the oath-taking ceremony has elaborated itself to a grand event that runs the whole day, and includes parades, speeches, and balls. The events that are held during the whole course of the day are mainly:
The first Inaugural ball in Washington was thrown for James and Dolley Madison in 1809 at Long's Hotel. There have been as many as 14 balls.
From 1793 until 1933, the Inauguration Day used to be held on March 4th. But after the 1933 ratification of the Twentieth Amendment, the start date of the term has been changed.
On the Inauguration Day, the president and vice-president are sworn into office. The ceremony which takes place at the U.S. Capitol is organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. After that, there is a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue with the new president watching it standing in front of the White House. The ceremony is broadcasted on television and radio.
The day is however not a public holiday and the people carry on with their work lives as usual. Institutions like schools and colleges, stores and other organizations are mostly kept open. There is no change in the public transport schedule as well. However, there are quite a few changes in the broadcasting schedules of radio and television as news channels are mostly busy in covering and broadcasting the inauguration ceremony.
For some federal employees, this day is however declared as a holiday. For employees who work in the District of Columbia or the surrounding areas, this is a holiday because the public transits in the area are heavily affected because of the ceremony there are heavy congestions on the road.
There is a total disruption to public life in and around Washington DC. This starts few days before the event and continues even few days after it. This is not only because of the ceremony, but also due to massive protests and demonstrations by the opponent parties and also due to the massive security operations. If it is an inauguration year and the month is January, and you had been planning to visit the area, it is better to postpone the idea.
Since 1789, the head of state of the USA has been the president of the USA. The term of his office officially starts at 12:00 noon on that date.
The vice-president is the one who is sworn first. The swearing-in ceremony of the president starts exactly at 12:00 noon. After the ceremony and other related formalities with it are over, a 21-gun salute from the howitzers of the military district of Washington is done. The president and vice-president then attend the luncheon organized by the United States Congress as guests of honor. In the later half of the day, there is a parade by them down Pennsylvania Avenue. They also walk part of the way from the Capitol to the White House. If the Inauguration Day is on a Sunday, the celebrations are held on the next day while there is only a private ceremony on the Inauguration Day.