Why We Honor Presidents Day


What is Presidents Day?

Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, marked what is now widely known as Presidents’ Day. Originally established as a national holiday in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all US presidents, both past and present.

Presidents Day Overtime

The story of Presidents’ Day begins in 1800. Following the death of George Washington in 1799, his 22nd birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration. In 1862, Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring Feb. 22nd a day of celebration honoring Washington.

On Feb. 22 1879, A Federal holiday was officially passed into law. The law was extended to cover all Federal employees, not just those in Washington D.C., in 1885. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed the date to the third Monday in Feb..

One tradition that still stands today, is the reading of Washington’s Farewell Address. Starting in 1896, it has become a tradition to read Washington’s Farewell Address on Feb. 22 (the actual day of his birth) in the US Senate by a current member. This tradition reminds us of a man whose patriotic spirit still inspires us to this day, particularly federal workers who uphold what he helped create.

Until 1968, Washington’s Birthday had always been celebrated on Feb. 22. It was tradition and a powerful reminder of the man who helped create what we have today in the United States.

On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act”. This law was to provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays. The act was also created to provide federal employees with more three-day weekends. Under this new law, Washington’s birthday would be celebrated on the third Monday of Feb.. Washington’s birthday has not been celebrated on the actual day of his birth since the law took effect in 1971.

While the name “Presidents’ Day” was proposed for this Monday holiday in 1951, the U.S. government never officially changed the name. In the 1980s, thanks to advertising campaigns for holiday sales, the term became popularized and largely accepted. The idea behind the name was to create a holiday that did not recognize a specific president, but rather celebrated the office of the presidency.

Year after year, as we take the break to rest and relax, we must also always take a moment to think about the leaders who helped build the nation we know and are proud of today!