We all know President’s Day as the spring version of Black Friday or a long weekend. But, when was the last time you ever sat back and thought about the reason school closes its doors on the third Monday in February? Why exactly do we celebrate President’s Day, and what is it?
President’s Day is a federal holiday and it began as a celebration of the birth of the first United States President George Washington, who was born on Feb. 22, 1732. Prior to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that was passed by Congress in 1971, the holiday was celebrated on his actual day of birth. It was named a federal holiday in an 1879 law established by former President Rutherford B. Hayes; it then moved to the third Monday of the month of February. The holiday was initially celebrated in Washington D.C, and in 1885 it expanded to the whole country.
George Washington wasn’t the only president who celebrated a birthday in February. Abraham Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809, so the celebration of the two president’s birthday became President’s Day. A holiday to honor both of them!
Much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day, President’s Day is a time of patriotism. The holiday earned special meaning during the Great Depression, and has grown across the country since, by staging celebrations, reenactments and many other events, according to History.com.