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Ten Things You May Not Know About Presidents Day
Posted on Feb 20th, 2011

1. The day was originally designated as Washington's Birthday, and the federal holiday was originally implemented by the United States Congress in 1880 for government offices D.C. and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices.
 
2. It was the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, and was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22. On 1 January 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This date places it between February 15 and 21, which makes the name "Washington's Birthday" a misnomer, since it never lands on Washington's actual birthday, February 22. A draft of the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 would have renamed the holiday to Presidents' Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, but this proposal failed in committee and the bill as voted on and signed into law on 28 June 1968, kept the name Washington's Birthday.
 
3. The first attempt to create a Presidents Day occurred in 1951 when the "President's Day National Committee" was formed by Harold Stonebridge Fischer of Compton, California, who became its National Executive Director for the next two decades. The purpose was not to honor any particular President, but to honor the office of the Presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day.
 
4. By the mid-1980s, with a push from advertisers, the term "Presidents Day" began its public appearance. Although Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. However, "Presidents Day" is not always an all-inclusive term.
 
5. In Massachusetts, while the state officially celebrates "Washington's Birthday," state law also directs the governor to issue an annual Presidents Day proclamation honoring the presidents with Massachusetts roots: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy. (Coolidge, the only one born outside of Massachusetts, spent his entire political career before the vice presidency there. George H. W. Bush, on the other hand, was born in Massachusetts, but has spent most of his life elsewhere.)
 
6. Alabama uniquely observes the day as "Washington and Jefferson Day", even though Thomas Jefferson's birthday is in April.
 
7. In New Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, while Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week.
 
8. In Washington's home state of Virginia the holiday is legally known as "George Washington Day."
 
 
 
9. Today, the February holiday has become well-known for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on Memorial Day or Christmas Day. With the late 1980s advertising push to rename the holiday, more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year, and, as on Veterans Day and Columbus Day, most delivery services outside of the U.S. Postal Service now offer regular service on the day as well. Some public transit systems have also gone to regular schedules on the day. Many colleges and universities hold regular classes and operations on Presidents Day. Various theories exist for this, one accepted reason being to make up for the growing trend of corporations to close in observance of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, when reviewing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record, one notes that supporters of the Bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business. Over time, as with many federal holidays, few Americans actually celebrate Washington's Birthday, and it is mainly known as a day off from work or school, although many non-governmental workers do not take the day off.
 
10. Since 1862 there has been a tradition in the
 
United States Senate
 
that George Washington's Farewell Address
 
be read on his birthday. Citizens had asked that this be done in light of the approaching Civil War. The annual tradition continues with the reading of the address on or near Washington's Birthday.
 
Spelling
 
Because Presidents Day is not the official name of the federal holiday, there is variation in how it is rendered. Both Presidents Day and Presidents' Day are today common, and both are considered correct by dictionaries and usage manuals. Presidents' Day was once the predominant style, and it is still favored by the majority of significant authorities—notably, The Chicago Manual of Style (followed by most book publishers and some magazines), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Webster's Third International Dictionary, and Garner's Modern American Usage. In recent years, as the use of attributive nouns (nouns acting as adjectives) has become more widespread, the popularity of Presidents Day has increased. This style is favored by the Associated Press Stylebook (followed by most newspapers and some magazines) and the Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference (ISBN 978-1582973357).
 
President's Day is a misspelling when used with the intention of celebrating more than one individual; however, as an alternate rendering of "Washington's birthday," or as denominating the commemoration of the presidency as a singular institution, it is a proper spelling. Indeed, this spelling was considered for use as the official federal designation by Robert McClory, a congressman from Illinois who was tasked with getting the 1968 federal holiday reorganization bill through the House Judiciary Committee. Nonetheless, while Washington's Birthday was originally established to honor George Washington, the term Presidents Day was informally coined in a deliberate attempt to use the holiday to honor multiple presidents, and is virtually always used that way today.Though President's Day is sometimes seen in print — even sometimes on government Web sites,this style is not endorsed by any major dictionary or usage authority.
 
 
Comments
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Comment By: John Walter
Posted on Feb 15, 2010

I remember having Washington's birthday off way back when. Interestong info, thanks. Lynda


Comment By: John Walter
Posted on Feb 15, 2010

I know,check my spelling.


Comment By: John Walter
Posted on Feb 15, 2010

I remember having Washington's birthday off way back when. Interestong info, thanks. Lynda