Fun Facts About Presidents Day

Fun facts about Presidents Day include both the history of two of our most loved presidents, and the changing attitudes of our Congress. Ever wonder why we celebrate Presidents Day? It winds up being a simple matter of convenience.

Calendar Changes
Up until 1752, Great Britain and America followed the Julian calendar, which is the Roman calendar Julius Caesar initially set into motion. A competing Gregorian calendar was created by Pope Gregory the XIII in 1582. Many countries got on board at that time. Great Britain and America did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until many years later.

There is an 11-day gap between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. When the Gregorian calendar is adopted, 11 days from the Julian calendar must be dropped.

George Washington was born under the Julian calendar. After America adopted the Gregorian calendar, Washington's birthday moved from February 12 to February 22.

George Washington was well loved and admired for leading America through the Revolution and serving as our first President. After his death, his "new" birth date, February 22, 1732, was observed as a national holiday.

Creating Presidents Day
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was also well loved. After his assassination, 30 states adopted a policy to celebrate his birthday, which was February 12, 1809. This observation was initially a state holiday and not a national holiday. Two holidays were now being celebrated a few days apart in February. Both were president's birthdays.

In 1950, the National Association of Travel Organizations (NATO) discussed combining George Washington's birthday with Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The hope was that the two birthdays would be celebrated on one day, known as Presidents Day. The bill also called for the shifting of holidays. Holidays would be celebrated on Mondays, thereby giving working Americans, at least those with a Federal positions, a three-day weekend.

The bill and the idea languished in Congress for several years. Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday continued to be state holidays in some places.

In 1971, the Unified Holidays Bill passed. This bill ensured that all national holidays would be observed on Mondays. Presidents Day was assigned the third Monday in February as the national day of observation. However, it is still not clear if the day is to celebrate all presidents, two presidents or just one president. When then-president Richard Nixon first heard about the bill, he felt it would be better to commemorate all presidents, not just two.

Interesting Facts About President's Day

  • Some states, including Illinois, still observe Lincoln's birthday on February 12, in addition to Presidents Day.
  • Some states only observe Presidents Day.
  • Some states celebrate neither birthday.
  • The state of Alabama, has gone its own way. Despite the fact that no one else celebrates Thomas Jefferson's birthday, Alabama has decided that the third President of the United States is worthy of a celebration in their state during the month of February, despite the fact that his birthday is actually in April. If you're visiting Alabama on the third Monday of February, be sure to tip your hat to the memories of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
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