On the third Monday in February, the United States celebrates the federal holiday known as Presidents Day. The day takes place during the birth month of the country’s two most prominent presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. While the day once only honored President George Washington on his birthday, February 22nd, the day now never lands on a single president’s birthday.
Across the country, most Americans know the day as Presidents Day. More and more of the population celebrates the day to honor all of the past United States Presidents who have served the country. Throughout the country, organizations and communities celebrate the day with public ceremonies.
HOW TO OBSERVE PRESIDENTS DAY
- Some businesses close for the day, including banks and federal buildings, so make a note.
- Celebrate your favorite U.S. president.
- Watch a documentary about the POTUS. For example, The Presidents by the History Channel.
- See if you can name all the presidents in order.
- Challenge yourself to some presidential trivia:
- Who are the three presidents who served in 1841?
- Forty years later, this same phenomenon occurred again in 1881. Name the three presidents who served that year.
- Name the three presidents who died on July 4th.
- Who were the four presidents who were assassinated while in office?
- Use #PresidentsDay to post on social media.
PRESIDENTS DAY HISTORY
The origin of Presidents Day lay in the 1880s when the birthday of George Washington was celebrated as a federal holiday. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill. The bill moved several federal holidays to Mondays creating three-day weekends. During the debate on the bill, one proposal suggested George Washington’s birthday be renamed Presidents Day to honor the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington’s birthday is February 22nd and Lincoln’s birthday is February 12th. Although Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated in many states, it was never an official federal holiday. Following much discussion, Congress rejected the name change.
Despite the rejection, soon after the bill went into effect in 1971, and the observance of Washington’s birthday shifted to the third Monday in February, gradually Presidents Day became the commonly accepted name. Over time, the observance came to be known to many as a day to honor both Washington and Lincoln. However, today another shift has occurred and many see the day as a celebration of all the U.S. Presidents.