George Washington’s birthday or Washington’s Birthday is a federal holiday in United States. This is actually celebrated on the third Monday in February. This celebration gives respect to the former President and father of our country, George Washington. Washington’s Birthday is also called the Presidents’ Day by many states on the state level (not federal) and celebrated on the same day.
According to the current Gregorian calendar, George Washington was born February 22, 1732. In 1879 President Rutherford B. Hayes signed Washington’s Birthday holiday into law, which first only applied to the District of Columbia and then in 1885 it applied to all states. Because this was the first federal holiday that respected an American citizen, it was celebrated on Washington’s actual birth date, which was February 22.
On January 1, 1971, because of an Act of Congress followed by an executive order by President Richard Nixon the federal holiday was moved to the third Monday of February. This was called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
The date of Washington’s Birthday now resides between February 15 and 21. Many citizens were upset with this move since the federal holiday of Washington’s Birthday no longer was commemorated on his actual birthdate.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was widely favored by members of Congress, Big Business and labor unions, however, to give workers more three day weekends throughout the year. Once this was declared, marketers jumped onboard and started having many sales during this time.
At the time that Washington’s Birthday was declared a national holiday in 1885, there were only four other such holidays including New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Much later, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would become only the second federal holiday to honor an individual American.
After the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was enacted many states would combine Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) into one holiday called “Presidents’ Day.” Some states, however, still celebrate a combination these days separately.
The intention of Washington’s Birthday remains, however, to celebrate our nation’s first President and commemorate his achievements in shaping America.
Rumor Has It …
… that in the Roaring 20’s, Washington’s Birthday was celebrated by a bunch of drunken hooligans in Boston cutting down cherry trees, willy-nilly while yelling, “I cannot tell a lie. I am drinking a libation.”