Whether you celebrate President’s Day, Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day … none are official federal holidays.
So what is?
- 1879: George Washington’s birthday becomes a federal holiday.
- In 1968, Congress mandated most federal holidays moved to Mondays to give federal workers a 3-day weekend & boost the economy (sales/travel).
- Some tried to change holiday officially to “Presidents Day” but the legislation never passed, so it remains Washington’s Birthday (ironically, Pres. Washington was quite a shopper).
“Mrs. Washington’s slippers and clogs have come safe to hand, the latter, however, are not as she wished to have … and will, by the first convenient opportunity, return the clogs to Mr. Palmer and get a pair of galoshes.”
Pres. Washington on March 15, 1789, ordering his wife shoes from London. He regularly ordered "designer shoes" for his wife from a London broker.
Pres. George Washington
- After serving as leader of the Continental Army, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention – where the Constitution was created, signed and ratified.
- Unanimously elected president twice (1789 & 1792).
- His birthday (Feb. 22) was an unofficial holiday celebrated by for many years; it became a federal holiday 80 years after his death.
What About Pres. Lincoln?
President Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. (BTW – some states recognize Presidents Day, rather than Washington’s Birthday, to include other leaders).
Presidents Reagan & Harrison were also born in February.
President Washington & MLK Jr. are the ONLY two Americans whose birthdays are *official* federal holidays.
Since the late 1890s, the Senate follows a tradition of reading Pres. Washington’s Farewell Address – words he penned after he decided not to seek a third term as president, and to return to Mt. Vernon instead. Read it for yourself on our source page:
- Washington’s Farewell Address
- Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session; parties alternate each year. Delivery generally takes about 45 minutes. In 1985, Florida senator Paula Hawkins tore through the text in a record-setting 39 minutes – while in 1962 West Virginia senator Jennings Randolph, savoring each word, consumed 68 minutes. At the conclusion of each reading, the appointed senator inscribes his or her name and brief remarks in a black, leather-bound book maintained by the Secretary of the Senate. Early entries in the notebook were typically brief explanations of the practice, accompanied by signature and date. Often, several entries appeared on a single page; in more recent years, entries have grown more elaborate and have included personal stories or comments on contemporary politics and policy. In 1956, Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey stated that every American should study this memorable message. “It gives one a renewed sense of pride in our republic,” he wrote. “It arouses the wholesome and creative emotions of patriotism and love of country.” The book’s first entry bears the signature of Joseph Foraker, a Republican senator from Ohio, and is dated February 22, 1900. Links to selected entries are included below.
- Let’s go shoe shopping with Martha Washington
- The Great Debate: Is it ‘Presidents’ Day’—or ‘Washington’s Birthday?
- List of official federal holidays:
- Go out and shop the Presidents Day sales. It’s what George Washington would have done!
- George Washington’s Birthday:
- Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day):
- Why Presidents Day isn’t really a national holiday:
- Why Presidents Day?:
- How Presidents’ Day Came to Be: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/02/17/howpresidentsdaycametobe121605.html
- There’S No Such Thing as a National President’s Day Holiday:
by Jenna Lee,