President's day

The Origins of President’s Day

February 20, 2017

Actually, the origins of the modern-day celebration of President’s Day date back to George Washington’s Birthday, which was on February 22. Originally, February 22 was regarded as George Washington’s Remembrance Day, but it was later decided to commemorate and honor all presidents of the USA. President’s Day is held on the third Monday of February. Interestingly, the date falls on neither of the presidents’ birthdays.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act

In the late 1960s, the Congress proposed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which signified the transition of commemorating George Washington on the day of his birthday to commemorating and honoring all American presidents. In general, this Act shifted the celebration of a few of federal holidays from specific dates to certain Mondays. It was one of the ways to establish three-day weekends for the working people. Besides, it was also aimed at reducing absenteeism from work. Most probably, the date for celebrating President’s Day was chosen to fall on the third Monday of February as two of the most prominent US presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, were born in February. The senator Robert McClory was one of the proponents of renaming Washington’s Birthday into President’s Day and celebrating it on the federal level. Apart from Washington Birthday, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day were also shifted from their traditional dates.

President's day

Transformations in the Celebration of President’s Day

The shift to the new date of celebration made the members of public think that the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln were commemorated. Marketers used this federal holiday as an opportunity to make more profits by organizing different weekend fairs and sales. By the mid-1980s, Americans became fully familiar with the celebration of President’s Day.  

Nowadays, President’s Day honors all the American presidents throughout the whole US history as all of them made a tremendous contribution to their country. However, some opponents towards this shift of holidays have argued as they regard that honoring all presidents alike minimizes the legacy and contribution made particularly by Washington and Lincoln. In 2000s, the Congress suggested that the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln should be celebrated individually – regardless of the generally accepted President’s Day. However, their attempts did not prove to be successful.

Traditions of the Celebration of President’s Day

President’s Day along with Independence Day is regarded as the most patriotic holidays. The holiday has gained its special meaning of remembering and honoring the most outstanding achievements of the country’s rulers. Nowadays, many historical and patriotic groups organize numerous events across the states to celebrate the day. Regarding the educational system, many schools organize special events and lectures a week prior to the celebration of President’s Day, where teachers and invited lecturers to tell kids about the presidents’ accomplishments and contributions to the sovereign state, putting a special emphasis on the contributions of Washington and Lincoln. 

It should be concluded that the way we celebrate President’s Day nowadays has undergone various transformations in the course of history. However, the most important thing is to always remember that we are able to live in the free land due to specific contributions of the country’s rulers.

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