President’s Day is an official holiday originally meant to recognize George Washington and it was celebrated on February 22, the day of George Washington’s birth and was actually called “Washington’s Birthday.”
The commemoration of George Washington started in 1800, the year after his death in 1799, but was an unofficial day. In the 1870s, Senator S.W. Dorsey of Arkansas proposed an official holiday celebrating George Washington, and in 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. It was at first only restricted to Washington D.C. but became an official nationwide Federal holiday in 1885.
In 1971, The Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed Washington’s Birthday to “President’s Day” to be celebrated on the third Monday of February in an effort to give more three day weekends to union workers.
The President’s Day celebration is supposed to celebrate both Washington and Lincoln, as moving it to the third Monday of February puts the holiday in between both of their birthdays, and, like Independence Day, is intended to be a patriotic day of celebration, but when retailers realized that the three day weekend was a good opportunity to get shoppers into their stores on their day off, they began to offer “President’s Day” sales.
After receiving some scrutiny that President’s Day was just another commercialized ‘sales’ day that was losing it’s meaning, proposals were seen in the early 2000s to make the day back to it’s original state, but the proposals did not garner enough attention to make a difference. Still, not everyone has forgotten the meaning. Many historical preservation societies choose to honor the presidents on this day and encourage people to spend their day off coming to events that include reenactments, exhibits, and festivals instead of going to the next President’s Day sale.
Have a great President’s Day/Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday Day!!