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The History of Presidents Day

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President Rutherford B. Hayes created the holiday in 1879 to remember our first president George Washington’s birthday. The holiday was on February 22nd. The holiday was originally called Washington’s Birthday.

Los Angeles streetcar decorated for Washington’s Birthday, c. 1892

In doing my research, there were many weird things about this holiday. For instance, the name in certain states, and the dates that changed later.

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In 1968, there was a proposed change of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February. It was rejected at the time because they wanted to keep the day surrounded on Washington’s birthday. However, three years later it was changed to the 3rd Monday in February. It was passed to create a three-day weekend for the nation’s workers.

Because the holiday was no longer on Washington’s birthday, others believed that we should honor Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays because they were both close to the date of the holiday. So the name was change to Washington’s and Lincoln’s Day. Each state call it different things but the federal holiday is known to celebrate all presidents, past and present. (Not at all the original intention).

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Then later changed to President’s Day to honor just Washington. Now it is said to honor ALL presidents and changed again to Presidents’ Day. Presidents’ Day does not fall on ANY birthday of any president.

It seems there were many amendments, different changes for each state, and the original meaning of this holiday has been changed a lot over the years. Then, you can add in different additions. For example, some schools do not instruct, the post offices close, there are sales in shops, and certain business give discounts on this day.

So, what do you think about this holiday? Should it have kept the original intention and honored George Washington? Do you think the addition to Lincoln and later other presidents make the holiday more inclusive?

Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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