While many calendars and advertisements identify the third Monday in February as Presidents' Day
, the official name of the federal holiday is Washington's Birthday. The name of the federal holiday indicates that we are celebrating the birth of George Washington, but the name most of us are familiar with implies that we are celebrating other presidents as well. Which is it?
As it turns out, the history of this holiday has a few twists and turns. It originally began as a day of remembrance of George Washington
. Washington was much admired; following his death in 1779, his birthday became a day of commemoration. February 22 was signed into law as a federal holiday in 1879 by President Rutherford B. Hayes
. Initially, the holiday only applied to the District of Columbia but was expanded to include the entire United States in 1885.
February 22? Yes, until 1971, the Father of Our Country's
birthday was, in fact, celebrated on his birthday. In the late 1960s however, there was a push to create more three-day weekends for federal workers. And, by that time, America had another widely admired President many wanted to celebrate as well: Abraham Lincoln
, also born in February.
While working out the details of the holiday bill
, the committee discussed whether the name of the Washington's Birthday should be changed to Presidents' Day but ultimately decided against it. However, the decision to place the observance on the third Monday of the month, also placed ...