Sunday, February 15, 2015

The History of Presidents Day

George Washington
George Washington
by Catherine Giordano

Presidents Day is celebrated on the third Monday of February. This year (2015) it falls on Monday, February 16th Before you rush out to take advantage of Presidents Day sales, check out some facts about Presidents Day 

President’s Day began as a holiday on February 22 celebrating the birth of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It began in 1879, but it was a holiday only for the District of Columbia. In 1885, it became a national holiday. 

Nearly 100 years later, in 1971, congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in order to create a three-day weekend. The holiday was moved to the third Monday of February.  (Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day were also moved to Monday. However, in 1980, Veterans Day was moved back to its original November 11 date.) 

The holiday known as Presidents Day was originally intended to honor only George Washington. However, since it was so close to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 11, people came to see Presidents Day as a day to honor both Washington and Lincoln. The federal government refers to the third Monday or February as Washington’s Birthday, although it is known as Presidents Day in most of the states.  

Today it is seen as a holiday to honor all presidents. Interestingly, despite having four* presidents who were born in February, Presidents Day never falls on the actual birthday on any of them.  They were all born either too early or too late in the month to have the third Monday fall on the date of their birth.  

I’ve got two posts about some of our most important presidents that celebrate these men as human beings rather than historical figures.  


I also have one for  the presidents’ wives. They are important too.

There is only one other federal holiday which honors an individual.  That is Martin Luther King Day celebrated on the third Monday of January.  Since all of February is Black History Month, I’m adding a post about Martin Luther King.

By the way, you will see the name of this holiday spelled three different ways: Presidents Day, President's Day, and Presidents' Day. Take your pick--just be consistent. 

Presidents' Day Book
 CLICK HERE Presidents' Day Book
*The four presidents are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison, and Ronald Reagan.