What To Know: Presidents’ Day 2023

February 15, 2023
United States of America Flag

Whether you celebrate President’s Day, Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day … none are official federal holidays.

So what is?

Washington’s Birthday

  • 1879: George Washington’s birthday becomes a federal holiday.

  • In 1968, Congress mandated that most federal holidays be moved to Mondays to give federal workers a 3-day weekend & boost the economy (sales/travel).

  • Some tried to change the holiday officially to “Presidents' Day” but the legislation never passed, so it remains officially Washington’s Birthday. Something to note when you see sales advertised for "Presidents' Day" — 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 "designer shoes," which he regularly did — most often from London. One of Mrs. Washington's best pair of shoes? Her custom-made "haute couture" wedding heels, made of purple silk with silver braid & spangles (check out our sources for photos).

Pres. George Washington

  • After serving as leader of the Continental Army, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention – where the Constitution was created and signed, before it was ratified in 1788.

  • Unanimously elected president twice (1789 & 1792).

  • His birthday (Feb. 22) was an unofficial holiday celebrated for many years; it became a federal holiday nearly 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 an annual 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. A Senate member is chosen from alternating parties each year to read the speech, which is about 45 minutes long. Read it for yourself on our source page.

This year, Senior Senator James Lankford (R-OK) is scheduled to read the address on Monday, February 27.

Washington's Farewell Address: CLICK HERE

Shoe shopping with Martha Washington: Mt. Vernon

For more about the history of George Washington's birthday: National Archives

by Jenna Lee,