Mount Rushmore

President’s Day: What is it?

President’s Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States to honor the presidents of the past and present.

You might think this holiday is the same throughout the country, but in reality, President’s Day looks and sounds very different across America.

Read on to learn more about this day.

History of the Holiday

President’s Day began in the year 1800 — one year after the death of George Washington. People across the United States wanted to honor the life and service of our nation’s first President and began honoring him on his birthday — February 22nd. Although, it wasn’t until 1879 when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law that George Washington’s Birthday was recognized as an official federal holiday in the United States.

This holiday was celebrated on George Washington’s actual birthday for nearly 100 years, until 1971 when the United States Congress introduced the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This changed the date of many American holidays, so they always line up on a Monday — to create more three-day weekends for working Americans. This date change from Washington’s real birthday, to the third Monday in February is what made the holiday slightly open to interpretation. Many Americans decided to use this day to honor all presidents, while some continued to only honor Washington.

How States Celebrate This Day

The majority of Americans call this holiday “President’s Day” and recognize it on the third Monday in February. However, the United States government has never recognized a “President’s Day” and has only recognized “George Washington’s Birthday.” If you live in Georgia or Indiana, you’ll observe this holiday on December the 24th and call it “Washington’s Birthday”, and if you live in New Mexico, you’ll celebrate it on the day after Thanksgiving and call it “Washington and Lincoln Day.”

Even for the states that celebrate this holiday on the third Monday in February, there’s a huge variation. Arkansas celebrates “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day”, Alabama celebrates “George Washington/Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday”, Utah celebrates “Washington and Lincoln Day”, while South Carolina and Maine try to keep everyone happy and celebrate “George Washington’s Birthday/ President’s Day.”

Final Remarks

No matter where you live, how you celebrate it or when you celebrate it, “President’s Day” is important because it honors some of the world’s most influential leaders that made great strides in the history of our country and the world.

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