Many kids spend the third Monday of February sleeping in late and enjoying a day off from school. With an extended weekend in the future, it’s a perfect time to explain to your children the full history about Presidents’ Day. We can help you get started:
George Washington was the first president of the United States and commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Washington’s presidency set the precedent for all presidents who followed. After serving two terms as president (1789-1797), Washington declined to serve a third term and gave his farewell address. The U.S. Senate still reads his address every year when honoring Washington’s Birthday.
After Washington’s death in 1799, his birthday on Feb. 22 began the celebration of an unofficial holiday. Every year on the 22nd, Americans would commemorate Washington’s achievements as a leader. The holiday was named “Washington’s Birthday” by the U.S. Government. With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just 10 days before, on February 12, Americans started honoring Lincoln along with Washington on February 22. In 1971, the federal government passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established certain holidays be officially celebrated on Mondays to increase the number of three-day weekends for federal employees. The passing of this law moved Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday of February. The act did not change the name of the holiday to Presidents’ Day, however. After a few years, U.S. states began referring to this holiday as Presidents’ Day to give it a more general name and honor all who have served as president.
This year, Presidents’ Day is celebrated on Monday, February 19. Though this holiday originally started as honoring only Washington, it has turned into a day to recognize all Presidents’ successes.
While we look ahead in anticipation of February, laden with thoughts of love (Valentine’s Day), of celebration and remembrance (African-American History month), and a holiday from school (Presidents’ Day), every day presents a chance to learn something new and interesting about American history and the historical figures that helped shape our great nation.