Thank George Washington, if you have the day off Monday
Published 11:17 am Friday, February 17, 2023
Monday is Presidents’ Day – a holiday for many. The day is a nod to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and other past presidents.
Every year on the third Monday in February, Presidents’ Day is observed.
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill in 1968 is partially to blame for the annual variation in Presidents’ Day’s date. In order to avoid shutdowns during the middle of the week and add long weekends to the government calendar, the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill required that three holidays, including Presidents’ Day, fall on Mondays.
People who work for one of the government organizations often have the day off on federal holidays since they are celebrated by the federal government. If a federal holiday falls on a weekend, it may also be observed on Monday or Friday.
The United States began celebrating its first president when he was still a general. Nearly 300 years since George Washington’s birth, the holiday has morphed into a celebration of the presidency.
Americans celebrated Washington’s birthday informally in the years after his death in 1799, and Feb. 22 was first recognized as a national holiday in 1879.
The contemporary idea of a Presidents’ Day came in 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which designated certain government holidays – including Washington’s Birthday, Labor Day and Memorial Day – to be observed on Mondays. The idea was to give federal employees more three-day weekends. Columbus Day, now often celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day became a federal holiday, too.
The law went into effect in 1971, and soon enough, Americans began celebrating the nation’s leaders by buying large appliances and mattresses.
There is confusion around this holiday because it is observed in many different ways across the nation. State tradition may be the guiding factor and Washington’s birthday may be observed as a standalone in some states while commemorating Washington and Lincoln together is a tradition in other states.
Others may observe Presidents’ Day by including those immortalized on Mount Rushmore (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt) or all presidents in general. Washington’s Birthday, as a federal holiday, is a three-day weekend for federal employees thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968.
However, not all states recognize Monday as Presidents’ Day. In fact, only about two dozen states officially recognize Presidents’ Day. More than a dozen others do not observe it at all.
A state holiday typically means government agencies are closed, and while some businesses used to close down for the holiday, some sources report that around the late 1980s retailers stopped closing, choosing to have sales and events to attract more customers instead.
Presidents’ Day is a holiday in Tennessee, meaning government employees will have a long weekend off.
If you have the day off Monday, lucky you. Enjoy! Thank George Washington.