This year, we celebrate Presidents’ Day on February 16, 2015–but what is Presidents’ Day? Initially, it was called Washington’s Birthday to celebrate our first President George Washington. Later, Presidents’ Day was meant to include President Abraham Lincoln. However, there were and still are states that do not like to celebrate President Lincoln.
The states of Massachusetts and Virginia celebrate Washington’s Birthday and it is called “Washington’s Birthday” or “George Washington’s Birthday.” The term “Presidents Day” was informally coined to include multiple presidents. In most states, Presidents’ Day includes all former presidents and the current president. When I was younger I was told we celebrate Presidents’ Day in February because most presidents were born in February–but that is not true. Six presidents were born in October and only four were born in February. Guess which four? Ronald Reagan was born February 6, 1911; William Henry Harrison was born February 9, 1773; Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, and George Washington was born February 22, 1732. The six presidents who were born in October are Jimmy Carter, born October 1, 1924; Rutherford B. Hayes, born October 4, 1822; Chester A. Arthur, born October 5, 1829; Dwight D. Eisenhower, born October 14, 1890; Theodore Roosevelt, born October 27, 1858, and John Adams born October 30, 1735.
The federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in Washington and it expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices. Initially, the holiday was celebrated on President Washington’s actual birthday of February 22. On January 1, 1971, the holiday was changed and Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
Source- Strauss, V. (2014, February 2). Why Presidents’ Day is slightly strange? Retrieved from The Washington Post.
If you would like more information about Presidents’ Day, check out these items from DCPL:
Presidents’ Day by Natalie M. Rosinsky
Presidents’ Day by Sheri Dean