Happy President's Day: Fun Facts - 2/17/14

February 17, 2014
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To celebrate the holiday, we put together some fun facts about George Washington and the national holiday.

Presidents' Day Facts

Presidents' Day falls on the third Monday in February in the United States. It is also known as Washington's Birthday, after George Washington, the first president of the United States. The day is meant to celebrate George Washington and all the presidents of the U.S. It became a federal holiday in 1879. Although there was an attempt in 1968 to officially call the third Monday in February Presidents' Day, it failed. It eventually came to pass that in 1971. Still many states choose to call this day Presidents' Day instead of Washington's Birthday. Some states also celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday at this time as well.

Interesting Presidents' Day Facts:

  • The federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February is not officially called Presidents' Day. Instead, it is Washington's Birthday. There was an attempt in 1968 to officially name it Presidents' Day. However, this suggestion died in committee. Many states, however, choose to call their own celebration on this day "Presidents' Day."
  • In the 1700s, George Washington's birthday was celebrated while he was still alive, and many in the U.S. took part in the festivities. He was born in 1732 and died in 1799.George Washington was president for two terms, from 1789 to 1793, and 1793 to 1797.
  • George Washington had important military roles prior to becoming president. Under his leadership, the American Continental Army defeated the British in 1783. Many believe he is the most important politician in American history.
  • In 1879, approximately one century later, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the bill making February 22nd a federal holiday.
  • Abraham Lincoln's birthday falls closely to George Washington but his is not a federal holiday. Many states still celebrate his birthday along with George Washington's.
  • Cherries are very popular when making desserts for celebrating George Washington's birthday. The reason for the popularity of cherries relates directly to a story about George Washington. When asked if he'd cut down a cherry tree, George Washington said he could not tell a lie.
  • It became common in the late 1980's for retailers to use Presidents' Day as a day to sell off old stock.
  • Since 1888, George Washington's Farewell Address has been read in the senate on February 22nd of most years.
  • Some spell it President's Day and some spell it Presidents' Day. Presidents' Day refers to more than one president while President's Day refers to one President. The difference in spelling may be because some celebrate George Washington alone on this day and others celebrate George and Abraham Lincoln, while some may be celebrating all presidents.Even though it is a federal holiday, each state is free to call it what they choose and how to celebrate.
  • There were four presidents born in February including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Harrison and Ronald Reagan. Most celebrate Presidents' Day in honor of the first two.