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If you’ve recently looked at the calendar, you probably already know that we have an upcoming national holiday approaching. Presidents’ Day 2017 is next Monday, February 20. Banks and other federal organizations close for the day and every furniture store it town seems to have the best sale of the year as a way to celebrate the occasion but is it a real holiday?
The answer is yes! Although this holiday may not be as widely celebrated as others, Presidents’ Day is a true holiday. The story of the observance began in the year 1800. After President George Washington’s death, his birthday (February 22) became a day of remembrance; however, it didn’t officially become a nationally recognized holiday until 1879.
In the late 1960’s, Washington’s Birthday began to shift to Presidents’ Day. Congress proposed a law known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to consolidate several federal holidays into pre-determined Mondays. The proposed change was to create additional three-day weekends and reduce employee absenteeism. A provision was included in the law to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on February 12. The act was passed in 1968 and took effect in 1971 under President Richard Nixon. The holiday was then changed from February 22 to the third Monday of February.
Washington and Lincoln remain two of the most nationally recognized leaders, but Presidents’ Day is now seen as a day to honor all of America’s chief executives, both past and present.
Presidents’ Day may not be as large of a celebration as other holidays such as Independence Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t commemorate the occasion. We have a couple of ideas to get you started:
- Enjoy fish for dinner, which George Washington’s favorite meal, according to his wife, Martha.
- Honor The Great Emancipator by reading any of Lincoln’s well-known speeches.
- Learn more about the founders of our great nation or a president of your own generation. It’s always a wonderful time to visit your local library.
Presidents’ Day is only a few days away, how do you plan to celebrate?
Happy Presidents’ Day from Lions Pride!