Presidents Day

written February 17, 2019, by Maeve Kilbride

Gilbert Stuart's portrait of our first president.

What is Presidents Day and why do we celebrate it?

Did you know that President’s Day was originally intended to celebrate George Washington’s birthday? It used to be celebrated every year on his birthday, February 22.

While some states still have individual holidays celebrating the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, President’s Day is now intended to honor all the U.S. presidents.

Washington’s birthday was informally celebrated by the nation from the time he died until it became a federally recognized holiday in 1879. The holiday was celebrated on his birthday each year until Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1968, moving the celebration to the third Monday of February. This act was created to give federal employees more three-day weekends.

While not everything is closed on Presidents Day, most federal banks, public schools, courts, DMVs, and USPS services observe the holiday and will be closed. Many private institutions remain open on the holiday, and many retail stores even offer Presidents Day sales!

As we know, President’s Day, or Washington’s Birthday, is no longer celebrated on a specific date, but instead is celebrated on the third Monday of February. But, did you know the holiday’s name was never legally changed?

The name change was proposed in 1951, but the U.S. government never legally changed it. So why is it known as President’s Day? Thanks to advertising campaigns for those holiday sales, this name became widely known as and accepted.

So, while you might be enjoying school off today, remember why the holiday is in existence. We are celebrating both the office of the presidency as a whole, and the birth of the Father of our country. It is an important day for our nation!

If you are interested in learning more about George Washington’s birthday, or interested in visiting where he lived, make sure to plan a Washington DC with us.

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