In the short video above, we take a light-hearted look at the confusion over the name of this holiday.
When is Washington's Birthday?
How long until Presidents' Day?
|This holiday next takes place in 334 Days.|
Dates of Presidents' Day
|The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796|
|View the state by state guide to Presidents' Day|
Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. It may also be known as President's Day, with an apostrophe that moves about from state to state.
This confusion as to the name is that despite its status as a federal holiday, states are free to name this holiday as they wish or even whether or not it is observed as a public holiday in that state. Read our comprehensive guide to how Presidents' Day is observed (and named) in all U.S. states.
While the day might be a holiday at a state level, whether or not a private company is likely to observe the day as a holiday depends on the nationwide approach to public holidays in that company.
Most government offices and public schools will be closed and it is a postal holiday, so there will be no mail deliveries on President's Day.
History of Presidents' Day
The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency). Washington, according to the calendar that has been used since at least the mid-18th century, was born on 22 February 1732. According to the old style calendar in use back then, however, he was born on 11 February. In 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead.
By the early 19th century, Washington's Birthday had taken firm root in the American experience as a bona fide national holiday. Its traditions included Birthnight Balls in various regions, speeches and receptions given by prominent public figures, and a lot of revelry in taverns throughout the land.
Then along came Abraham Lincoln, another revered president and fellow February baby (born on the 12th of the month). The first formal observance of his birthday took place in 1865, the year after his assassination, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address. 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 (HR 15951) 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 in February is still officially known as Washington's Birthday (at least according to the Office of Personnel Management), it has become popularly (and, in some cases at the state level, legally) known as "Presidents' Day." This has made the third Monday in February a day for honoring both Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.
In Arkansas, Daisy Gatson Bates Day is a state holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February.
Did you know?
William Henry Harrison died just 32 days after becoming president. He died from a cold he got while standing in the rain giving his inauguration speech
Four presidents were born during February - Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, George Washington, and William Harrison.
Even though George Washington's birthday was February 22nd, the day is officially celebrated on the third Monday in February
Even though Presidents' Day is a federal holiday, each state is free to call it what they choose and how to celebrate
The 'S' in Harry S. Truman does not stand for anything