Mount Rushmore (
Mount Rushmore (

President’s Day

The historical side and fun facts behind this February holiday

There have been 45 presidents since the creation of the United States of America. However, our day celebrating them was truly only created to honor one. Who might this president be? Our very first president, George Washington would hold that honor.


The holiday celebrated on the second Monday of February every year was first created as a federal holiday celebrating George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. This was before federal holidays were on Mondays, so it was celebrated on February 22nd every year after becoming an official holiday in 1879. However, it still took another six years for the entire country to join in on the celebration, becoming one of four national holidays across the country by 1885. Washington’s birthday was the first to celebrate an individual person.

It was not until around the 1960s that the name change occurred for this February holiday. In 1968, the Uniform Holiday Act was passed by Congress which moved some major holidays to Mondays. This gave more three-day weekends for workers throughout the year. Included in this act was Washington’s birthday which moved from February 22nd to the third Monday of February. Though this day never falls on his actual birthday, the holiday was meant to include President Lincoln who also had a February birthday (12th). This act official went into effect following the Nixon presidency in 1971. More information on this holiday here.

Who is Celebrated

Abraham Lincoln (U.S Department of Agriculture)

President’s Day was created to honor the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but it is more commonly celebrating all the presidents’ birthdays and deaths. The day itself is not actually named “President’s Day,” so the celebration was meant to be for George Washington’s birthday. Congress did try to change the name in 1951, but the change was never passed or approved. The idea behind the name change was to make the holiday a more general celebration, but the edit was never made as it was believed that our first president deserved his own day of celebration.


The traditional celebrations of President’s Day are not all that glamourous. People may read through Washington’s Farewell Address or memorize every President of the United States. There are some fun traditions like eating cherry pie in honor of Washington because of the chopped cherry tree legend. Some people will just eat a president’s favorite dessert instead. Towns may even hold festivals as their tradition. For example, Alexandria, Virginia celebrates the entire month of February. There is even a birthday parade in order of Washington. A Florida town also holds a celebration, “George-Fest“, which first occurred in 1902, and it has continued to be celebrated ever since. These traditions vary in size and popularity, but they all celebrate our past presidents.

Fun Facts

Some fun facts about this day:

Theodore Roosevelt (Library of Congress)

1. There are three universities in the United States named after George Washington.

2. James Buchanan is still the only president to never be married.

James Buchanan (Library of Congress)

3. There are a total of four presidents with February birthdays. These presidents include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison, and Ronald Regan.

4. James Madison and George Washington were the only people who signed the Constitution that later became presidents.

5. Three presidents have all died on the 4th of July; Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe.

6. Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born in the United States and to speak English as a second language; his first was Dutch.

7. President Theodore Roosevelt was blind in his left eye because of an injury from a boxing match.

Ohio State Flag
(license: (J. Stephan )
Virginia State Flag
(license: (Gary Cope)


8. Virginia was the birthplace of the most presidents at eight followed by Ohio at seven. More on the presidents from Virginia and Ohio here.



Martian van Buren (Library of Congress)

9. The states of Delaware, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida all do not celebrate President’s Day. More on what states celebrate this holiday here.

10. Some states will actually celebrate President’s Day on Black Friday or Christmas Eve. These states are Georgia (Christmas Eve), Indiana (Black Friday), and New Mexico (Black Friday).

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