Today is Presidents’ Day – an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Like Independence Day, Presidents’ Day is traditionally viewed as a time of patriotic celebration and remembrance.
It originally was celebrated in 1885 in recognition of our nations’ first President, George Washington when it was called “Washington’s Birthday” which was actually February 22nd , but it “morphed” into a celebration of all Presidents and became Presidents’ Day as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
From the 1940s to 1968, Americans observed both our 16th President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12 and Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22.
- The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 moved several holidays to Monday, including the two presidents’ birthdays. The new national federal holiday was to be observed on the third Monday of February, and its purpose was to honor all former presidents.
- Washington is one of only 3 individuals who have official U.S. holidays commemorating their birthdays, including Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther King, Jr., according to biography.com
- In the early 2000s, half the 50 states had changed the holiday’s name to Presidents’ Day on their calendars
- In its modern day form, Presidents’ Day is used by many patriotic and historical groups as a date for staging celebrations, reenactments and other events.
Some Fun Facts about Presidents during the past 242 years since 1776:
- George Washington was the only president elected unanimously. All the state representatives voted for him, partly in an attempt to show the new nation was willing to work together.
- James Madison was the shortest president at 5 feet 4 inches tall. If you guessed Lincoln was the tallest president at 6 feet 4 inches tall, you are right. But, Lyndon Johnson was also 6 feet 4 inches in height. (By the way, Madison and Washington were the only presidents who signed the U.S. Constitution.)
- John Adams died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1826. Amazingly, that day was also the 50th anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence.
- Franklin Roosevelt was the first president to appear on television, during a 1939 broadcast from the World’s Fair.
- John F. Kennedy was the first president who was a Boy Scout, and also was the first Catholic elected to the nation’s top job.
Check out this video and learn more about why we celebrate Presidents’ Day and keep the tradition going!