The History of Presidents’ Day

Posted by Silvia C on Feb 10, 2021

Presidents' Day is celebrated annually on the third Monday of February. The federal holiday was established in 1885 to recognize the nation's first president, George Washington.

This holiday's history began shortly after George Washington's passing in 1799 and was originally referred to as "Washington's Birthday". It began as an informal holiday celebrated on his birthday, February 22, by Americans across the country. It wasn't until 1879 that his birthday became recognized as a federal holiday.

In 1971 the holiday was moved to the third Monday of February as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, to create more three-day weekends for American workers. In 1980 the holiday's name was changed from "Washington's Birthday" to "Presidents’ Day" to create a holiday that recognized and celebrated the office of the presidency.

Americans today use this day to celebrate all U.S. Presidents, past and present. Along with George Washington, the holiday comes close to Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12.

Traditionally on Presidents’ Day, a wreath-laying ceremony occurs at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to commemorate the 16th president.

Several states have created their own traditions in the celebration of this holiday. During non-COVID times, America's largest Presidents’ Day Parade occurs annually in Alexandria, Virginia. The parade shows marching bands and historical re-enactments.

This year we will celebrate President's Day on February 15, 2021. President's Day, known federally as Washington’s Birthday, is a full-staff flying holiday.