Today we get to enjoy a few extra hours of sleep, a real breakfast and some glorious free time to ourselves … all thanks to Presidents Day. We all appreciate this federal day of rest and celebration, but what do we really know about it?
First of all, it’s actually called “Washington’s Birthday.”
That’s right: what our nation has come to know and love as Presidents Day is officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” The holiday was established in 1885 to commemorate the birth of the first U.S. president, George Washington.
Why is it on the third Monday of February?
Washington was born Feb. 22. Congress passed an act in 1968 to combine the celebration of Washington’s birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, in honor of two of the most important figures in American history. The holiday was changed to the third Monday of February so that we could always have a three-day weekend. See, even Congress gets it right sometimes!
More facts about Washington’s Birthday:
- It was the first holiday that celebrated the life of an individual American.
- Nowadays, it is popularly seen as a day to recognize all American presidents.
- Four presidents were born in February: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan.
- The annual Washington’s Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas is a monthlong event and the largest event of its kind.
How should we celebrate?
Bored of the regular ol’ weekend plans? If you’re looking for a way to honor our presidents, we have a few suggestions. Dress up as Lincoln and play “pin the beard on the President.” Better yet, go all out and throw an 18th-century-style party of merriment and wine drinking (a favorite pastime of our Founding Fathers). If that’s not your thing, have a bake-off with friends, using cherries as the main ingredient – if you don’t get the reference, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of presidential mythology.
Image Source: Sebastian Bergmann, under Creative Commons
Contact Tiffany Gong at [email protected].