Interesting Facts About Presidents’ Day: Washington’s Birthday

Presidents Day

Presidents’ Day

How much do you know about Presidents’ Day? Because Presidents’ Day is kind of a strange holiday, of which a lot of people only have a vague understanding. Seriously, what is Presidents’ Day, even? What exactly are we celebrating?
Presidents’ Day falls on the third Monday in February in the United States. It is also known as Washington’s Birthday, after George Washington, the first president of the United States. The day is meant to celebrate George Washington and all the presidents of the U.S. It became a federal holiday in 1879.
While there was an attempt in 1968 to officially call the third Monday in February Presidents’ Day, it failed. It eventually came to pass that in 1971. Still many states choose to call this day Presidents’ Day instead of Washington’s Birthday. Some states also celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at this time as well.
Without further ado, let’s now look at some interesting facts about Presidents’ Day.
1. It was created to honor George Washington’s birthday, but other presidents have stolen his thunder. The holiday was created to honor the first U.S. president, George Washington. According to History.com, Washington’s birthday was how the holiday began, following his death in 1799, and was celebrated each year on Feb. 22. It was then celebrated widely in 1832 on the centennial of his birth, and then in 1848 when construction first started on the Washington Monument.
However, with other presidents having birthdays in February (including Abe Lincoln, on Feb. 12), and the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971 (more on that later), the holiday became recognized as a day to honor multiple past presidents and celebrate patriotism in a general sense. Poor George.
In fact, Alabama celebrates Washington’s birthday and Thomas Jefferson’s birthday on Presidents’ Day, even though Jefferson was born in April.
2. It has different names in certain states. In Virginia, which is Washington’s home state, they call it George Washington’s Day. In Alabama, it’s called Washington and Jefferson Day. And there’s also no official agreement on the placement of the apostrophe in “Presidents’ Day,” so you might see it written as “Presidents’ Day,” “President’s Day,” or just “Presidents Day.”
3. It was almost changed back to individual birthdays in the 2000s. Because the origins of Presidents’ Day started to become lost in the shuffle, honored more presidents than just Washington, sort of screwed over Lincoln, and morphed into a commercialized cluster of chaos, an attempt to restore Washington’s and Lincoln’s individual birthdays as holidays was made in the 2000s. Unfortunately, it didn’t gain much traction. However, the federal government still recognizes Presidents’ Day as a celebration of Washington, and is listed as such on official calendars.
4. It was changed in the ’60s to give more people three-day weekends. Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968 (later taken into effect by Nixon in 1971), which was a proposed measure to move several federal holidays to certain Mondays. The act would then create a series of three-day weekends for employees, and cut down on work absenteeism. And because the third Monday in February fell between the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, this shift would create a way to celebrate both birthdays on the same day.
5. Even though it is a federal holiday, each state is free to call it what they choose and how to celebrate.
6. Some spell it President’s Day and some spell it Presidents’ Day. Presidents’ Day refers to more than one president while President’s Day refers to one President. The difference in spelling may be because some celebrate George Washington alone on this day and others celebrate George and Abraham Lincoln, while some may be celebrating all presidents.

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