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Presidents’ Day or Washington’s Birthday, which is it?

Posted on: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Presidents’ Day will be celebrated on Feb 18th – AND today in fairness to “Honest Abe”, it’s time to set the record straight.
On February 18th we will be celebrating Presidents’ Day.  I have always assumed that the third Monday in February was not just a day to partake in great sales events, but to honor the memory of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  While doing some research on how this day came to be I learned some surprising information.  Be sure to let me know if you were as surprised as I was.

The official name for Presidents’ Day is WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY.  In 1885 it was decided to establish a federal holiday to celebrate the “Father of Our Country’s” legacy.  For 80 years this day was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday – February 22nd.  But in 1968 lawmakers signed into law the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to create three day weekends.  And there it is; the Act did not officially establish “Presidents Day nor was the intent to include Lincoln’s birthday.  HOWEVER since the federal observance of Washington’s Birthday was placed in the week of between February 15th – 21st, and Lincoln’s birth date is February 12th, we, the people, nicknamed the day -Presidents’ Day.  As another interesting note, Washington’s Birthday can never actually occur on his birthday.  The third Monday in February can never be later than the 21st and, as noted above, his actual birthday is the 22nd. So now you know and yes it’s time to honor George and tell the kids about the real holiday.

You can read more about it on this government web site:

National Archives: By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday!

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This entry was posted in Abraham Lincoln, Conversation with kids, Conversations with kids, George Washington, History, President's Day, Reading, talking to kids. Bookmark the permalink.

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