Presidents’ Day Countdown
until February 18, 2019
Presidents’ Day Facts and History
President’s Day is an official holiday celebrated at the federal level across the United States and at the state level in most states. The purpose of the holiday has changed over the years, but today, it is seen as a time to honor the lives of two important American presidents–Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
When is President’s Day?
President’s Day is held on the third Monday of February every year. The date was officially established in 1968 by a law signed by President Lyndon B Johnson. Prior to that time, the holiday was held on February 22 in many states. The date was chosen as it coincides with George Washington’s birthday.
Differences in President’s Day Celebrations
George Washington’s birthday was officially made a holiday in 1879 by an act of Congress. Over the years that followed, the holiday gradually expanded. As previously mentioned, at the federal level, President’s Day honors the achievements of two U.S. Presidents: George Washington, who served as the first President of the United States and Abraham Lincoln, who led the United States during the Civil War and is known for freeing the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation.
State level observances of President’s Day vary. Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, New York and Massachusetts call the holiday Washington’s Birthday alone. In Alabama, the holiday celebrates the lives of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Arkansas used the holiday to celebrate the lives of George Washington and Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist who helped to fight for desegregation during the 1950s. Other states observe President’s Day as the federal government does or uses it as a day to honor all of the people who have served as president.
How President’s Day is Celebrated
Federal employees have President’s Day off, and state government offices are closed in all of the states where the date is an official holiday. Public schools are usually closed in honor of the occasion, but most private companies and service businesses are open.
After the date of President’s Day was moved to a Monday, creating a three-day weekend, retailers in the United States began to use the annual event as an opportunity to boost sales. Stores typically run sales events throughout the weekend with a focus on selling off any remaining items from the winter season to make way for spring and summer inventory.
Many communities throughout the United States hold special celebrations on President’s Day. Festivals and parades may be held, or communities and civic groups may stage historical reenactments, pageants or plays that honor President Washington and other U.S. presidents. Because of the patriotic aspect of the holiday, homes and businesses may fly the American flag in honor of the day.
Children often learn about the history of the presidents that are celebrated in their states on the days leading up to President’s Day. Special projects and assemblies are often used to make learning about the presidents more enjoyable for kids.