In 1885 Washington’s Birthday, February 22, became the fifth nationally recognized federal bank holiday, along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. It was also the first to honor the life of an American and a president.
Sometime in the 1960’s the uniform Monday Holiday Act was proposed by congress to combine and change several holidays to a series of predetermined Mondays. The idea was that workers could enjoy 3 day weekends and thus employee absenteeism would be reduced. Although some opposed the Act, feeling it might make the holidays less important, it was passed in 1968 and took effect in 1971.
The act also proposed combining Abraham Lincoln’s birthday of February 12 and recognizing two US Presidents and renaming the holiday, Presidents Day. That didn’t go over so well with the state of Virginia, Washington’s birthplace, so this part of the act was dropped and technically President’s day is still known as “Washington’s birthday” on official calendars.
Years ago, Washington’s birthday, (February 22), was a patriotic holiday. In 1938, around 5000 people attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in honor of Washington’s birthday. These days Americans flock to the department stores for President’s day sales.
And here’s an interesting fact, there were four presidents with February birthdays, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison, and Ronald Reagan. President’s Day never falls on the actual birthday of any of them.
We are taking the day off for Presidents day. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing, but I can tell you that I’m proud to be a part of this great nation. I’m proud of our history and I’m grateful for the men who helped to shape it, Washington, Lincoln and many others.
Happy President’s Day!
Were you familiar with the history of President’s Day?
Do you have the day off today?