Although today is George Washington's birthday, yesterday we celebrated Presidents Day - a Federal holiday first put into effect by an act of Congress in 1880 to pay tribute to George Washington, the first President of the United States.
And while the spelling differs, whether it's Presidents' Day or Presidents Day, the current observance is now meant to honor all US presidents. To celebrate, we've put together a few fun facts about the history of the holiday.
• Presidents Day was the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen and originally was celebrated on George Washington's birthday, on February 22.
• In 1951, the first attempt to create a Presidents Day took place when the "President's Day National Committee" was formed in Compton, California. The committee sought to change the meaning of the holiday—not to celebrate any particular President, but to honor the office of the Presidency.
• By the mid-1980s, retail advertisers pushed "Presidents' Day" to promote their retail campaigns.
• In Massachusetts, the state officially celebrates "Washington's Birthday" on the same day as the Federal holiday. State law also directs the governor to issue an annual "Presidents Day" proclamation on May 29 honoring the presidents with Massachusetts roots: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy.
• In Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, while Washington's Birthday 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."
• Well in need of a mid-winter break, five Canadian provinces instituted a holiday to coincide with Presidents Day: In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, it's Family Day; in Manitoba, it's Louis Riel Day; and in Prince Edward Island, it's Islander Day.
• Both Presidents Day and Presidents' Day are common spellings, and both are considered correct by dictionaries and usage manuals. Presidents' Day was once the predominant style, and it is still favored by the majority of significant authorities—notably, The Chicago Manual of Style. However, recently the spelling, "Presidents Day" has increased in popularity.
Happy Presidents Day!
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