It seems like most of the buzz around President’s Day has little to do with Presidents. It’s all about big sales, or taking off for a 3-day weekend. But where did the holiday come from? What exactly or who exactly are we celebrating? A surprising amount of American’s don’t know much about the holiday.
We bet you didn’t know it was this complex!
Originally the Holiday was celebrated as Washington Day, in celebration of George Washington’s Birthday, and fell on the 22nd of February.
The idea of changing the holiday from Washington Day to President’s Day, was first introduced in 1951. A bill proposing the holiday celebrate not Washington specifically, but the office of President itself. But the bill was stalled, and in 1968, finally voted down.
In 1971, under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it was moved the the third Monday of February. An early draft of the act would have renamed the holiday to “Presidents’ Day” to honor the birthdays of bothWashington and Lincoln, which would explain why the chosen date falls between the two, but this proposal failed in committee, and the bill was voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968, keeping the name as Washington’s Birthday.
Yep, that’s right, technically, today is Washington Day.
Here’s where things get even more confusing…
“President’s Day” isn’t just a Federal holiday, it’s also an official State holiday. And just about every State has a different name for the holiday.
So what does your state celebrate? Find out:
Presidents’ Day is celebrated in:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Puerto Rico
President’s Day is celebrated in:
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
Presidents Day is celebrated in:
- New Jersey
Did you notice the only difference in the first three categories is spelling?
George Washington Day is only celebrated in Virginia
Washington’s Birthday is celebrated in:
- New York
Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthday is celebrated in Montana.
Washington–Lincoln Day is celebrated in Colorado and Ohio
Washington and Lincoln Day is celebrated in Utah
Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday is celebrated in Minnesota
Alabama celebrates George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Birthday
And in Arkansas they celebrate George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day
These states recognize multiple names:
- Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day in Maine
- Lincoln/Washington/Presidents’ Day in Arizona
In California “The third Monday in February” and Lincoln’s birthday are explicitly named as separate holidays.
So there you have it, we’re celebrating George Washington on a federal level, and depending on your state, you might throw some other president’s in the mix!