Presidents’ Day in America – History and facts about the executive holiday
Every year on the third Monday in February (February 17th, 2014), America celebrates Presidents’ Day. The holiday was originally established in the late 1800s to celebrate George Washington’s birthday and was recognized on February 22nd, his actual birthday.
In 1971, the holiday officially became Presidents’ Day – a time to honor all past and present American presidents. At this time it was also moved to the floating Monday as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
However, some states still keep individual holidays to honor separate presidential birthdays. Along with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln also had a birthday in February, on the 12th.
The story of Presidents’ Day dates all the way back to the year 1800. Following Washington’s death in 1799, his birthday became a day of remembrance for Americans. The day remained an unofficial observance until President Rutherford B. Hayes made it a federal holiday in 1879. Initially it only applied to the District of Columbia, but was expanded to the rest of the country in 1885.
At this time in American history, Presidents’ Day joined four other nationally recognized federal holidays – Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving. This was the first holiday to celebrate the life of an individual American.
Today, Washington and Lincoln are the two most recognized leaders on Presidents’ Day. However, over the years, the holiday has shifted to celebrate the lives and achievements of all of America’s Chief Executives, even though official calendars still label the day as Washington’s Birthday.
And if you’re looking for more presidential information, here is some Presidents’ Day Trivia.
How do you celebrate Presidents’ Day?