February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012
President's Day

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and it is also President's Day here in the United States. I hope you have been having a safe and great three day holiday weekend. It has been a busy one for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

So what is the history of President's Day? Do you know? If not, read on.

Because I'm curious and I like to share the fruits of my curious mind, I once again present to you the true history of another American Holiday. This time, it is Presidents' Day's turn.

In 1796, during the last full year of Washington's presidency the United States decided to honor their great president by celebrating his birthday. Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Though according to the old style calendars which predate the mid-18th century his birthday falls on February 11. I know it is confusing.

By the early 1800s Washington's Birthday had become an established, though not official, national holiday. Americans would honor Washington by throwing lavish Balls and receptions attended by prominent socialites and public figures. The common man would celebrate, as we American's still do, by gathering in public houses and taverns to honor Washington as another excuse to drink.

Then another well-respected February born president came onto the scene. Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday falls on the 12th of February, was formally honored on his birthday in 1865, one year after his assassination. To commemorate his death, both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address, on the day of his birth.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, his birthday did not become a legitimate national holiday like Washington's did, but it did become a legal holiday in several states.

Washington's Birthday became an official holiday in 1880, becoming the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen. It was to be celebrated on February 22.

Don't click away yet... there's more.

In 1968, legislation was put in place to simplify yearly calendars and give federal employees some fixed 3-day weekends. The act started in 1971 shifting the observation of Washington's Birthday to the third Monday in February instead of on the 22nd. And although this holiday is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has become popularly known as Presidents' Day. This now makes the third Monday in February a day for honoring both Washington and Lincoln. Though I am pretty sure it's okay to honor other presidents as well.

And in true American fashion, Presidents' Day is also synonymous with sales and shopping. Do you think George and Abe mind people honoring them by buying discounted appliances?

PS - Though most put the possessive apostrophe for President's Day after the 'T' (like I did here and in in my title for search engine optimization reasons), it is incorrect. This spelling indicates a day belonging to one President, while putting the apostrophe after the 'S', in spelling Presidents' Day, indicates a day belonging to more than one President.

Now you know the rest of the story. Hope ou have a great and safe day!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab