Next Monday is our “President’s Day” holiday, but the observed federal holiday is officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” Neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name be changed to “President’s Day.” Additionally, Congress has never declared a national holiday that is binding in all states; each state has the freedom to determine its own legal holidays. This is why there are some calendar discrepancies.
Calling the holiday President’s Day helps us to reflect on not just the first president, but also the founding of our nation, its values, and what Washington calls in his Farewell Address the “beloved Constitution and union as received from the Founders.” Additionally, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is in February (on the 12th), so by calling the holiday President’s Day, we can include another remarkable president in our celebrations as well.
President’s Day is observed annually on the third Monday in February and all retail stores use this reference to advertise special sales events. Washington’s birthday was celebrated on February 22nd until well into the 20th century. In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays. By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.” As of today, George Washington’s Birthday is one of only eleven permanent holidays established by Congress.
So, after enjoying the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, let’s enjoy yet another special day in the month of February!