HISTORY OF PRESIDENTS’ DAY

Feb 18, 2013 -- 3:55pm

The original version of Presidents’ Day was held on February 22nd in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796, the last full year of his presidency. Its traditions included commemorative speeches given by prominent public figures, as well as celebrations in various regions throughout the U-S. Born on February 12th, the first formal observance of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday took place in 1866, the year after his assassination, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address in his honor. While Lincoln's Birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington's, it did become a legal holiday in several states. In 1968, legislation was enacted that affected several federal holidays. One of these was Washington's Birthday, the observation of which was shifted to the third Monday in February each year whether or not it fell on the 22nd. This act, which took effect in 1971, was designed to simplify the yearly calendar of holidays and give federal employees some standard three-day weekends in the process. While the holiday is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has become popularly known as Presidents’ Day, a time for honoring Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.

 

FACTS ABOUT PRESIDENTS’ DAY

  • Americans didn’t observe this holiday until 1832, over 100 years after George Washington’s birth.
  • In George Washington’s home state of Virginia, the holiday is legally known as George Washington Day.
  • George Washington’s birthday was the first federal holiday to single out an individual’s birth date.
  • This holiday has become well-known for being a day in which many stores hold sales.
  • Because of all the Presidents’ Daysales that go on around the country, Presidents’ Day has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
  • Historic Alexandria, Virginia hosts a month-long tribute, including the longest running George Washington Birthday parade.
  • Since 1862, there has been a tradition in the United States Senate that George Washington's Farewell Address is read on his birthday.
  • The GeorgeWashingtonBirthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, Virginia holds an annual birthday celebration on Presidents’ Day.
  • Mount Vernonhonors George Washington with a birthday celebration weekend and an annual free entry day
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