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Understanding Presidents' Day

Understanding Presidents
Do you know how Presidents' Day came to be?

Presidents' Day has a history that's a little more complicated than you might think. The holiday is actually called "Washington's Birthday" by the United States government, but we know it as Presidents' Day due to an interesting series of changes in its celebration. Inaugural president George Washington's birthday is February 22nd, which is when the holiday of Washington's birthday was established in 1885.

 

 In 1971 things changed as  the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was introduced to give the nation's workers more three-day weekends. The holiday's celebration moved to the third Monday of February, regardless of the date it fell on. Since the date isn't set in stone, what exactly we were able to acknowledge and celebrate opened up a bit. 

 

Abraham Lincoln's February 12th birthday had been a holiday in his home state of Illinois among others, but the UNHA enabled his birthday celebration to be nationalized since Presidents' Day now fell between Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays.

 

The UNHA decision was actually met with praise and acclaim from many communities. Employers were happy because they no longer had to worry about absentees on sporadic holiday dates, and retailers were able to market "Presidents' Day" sales for that weekend each year. Workers could count on the treat of three-day weekends a few more times a year, too. 

 

Though the history of Presidents' Day is a bit convoluted, what it represents is not. George Washington was the United States' first official leader, and Abraham Lincoln led us through the most trying time in the history of our country. Enjoy the time off that we're rewarded with, but keep the legacy of these men in your thoughts, too


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