Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

Remember when we used to celebrate Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday and now for some reason it has been strangely squeezed together into one holiday "Presidents' Day".

Here is the reasoning behind the madness:

Presidents' Day is the common name for the United States federal holiday officially designated as Washington's Birthday. It is celebrated on the third Monday of February.

As the official title of the federal holiday, Washington's Birthday was originally implemented by the federal government in 1880 in the District of Columbia and expanded in 1885. to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22nd. In 1971 the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February.

In the late 1980s, with a push from advertisers (see detail below), the term Presidents' Day began its public appearance. The theme has expanded the focus of the holiday to honor another February President, Abraham Lincoln, and often other Presidents of the United States as well. Although Lincoln's birthday,, February 12 was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents' Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. It is also interesting to note that "Presidents' Day" is not always an all-inclusive term. In Massachusetts while their state holiday honors "Washington's Birthday", there is also a Presidents' Day Proclamation honoring the Presidents that have come from the New England area. Alabama uniquely observes the day as "Washington and Jefferson Day," even though Jefferson's birthday was in April. In Connecticut while Presidents' Day is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln's birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week.

In Washington's home state of Virginia the holiday is legally known as "George Washington Day."

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