Friday 17 Feb, 2012

The History and Tradition of Presidents Day

Presidents Day is more than a three-day weekend and a chance to hit big retail sales. Presidents Day is a time to honor every one of our chiefs of state. Every third Monday in February, we celebrate the birthday of our first president, George Washington. However, it wasn’t always that way.

The first Presidents Day was acknowledged on February 22, 1800, to honor U.S. presidents. The day was chosen to specifically honor George Washington, since the 22nd was his birthday. It was the first holiday honoring the specific birthday of a U.S. citizen. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only other holiday of this type.

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, making all federal holidays fall on Mondays in order to give workers three-day weekends. The holiday may not celebrate George Washington’s birthday specifically anymore, but he is certainly honored the third Monday of each February.

5 Presidential Birthday Fun Facts:

  • Virginia has given us 8 of our 43 presidents, making it the most popular birthplace of P.O.T.U.S.
  • Four of our presidents were born in February: Washington, Lincoln, Harrison and Reagan.
  • October has the most presidential births with six presidential birthdays.
  • Between the births of George Washington in 1732 and Barack Obama in 1961, a president has been born in every decade except for the 1810s, 1930s and 1950s.
  • Since 1862, George Washington’s farewell address has been read in Congress every February 22nd. It was reread for the first time to boost morale during the Civil War. Read about the tradition here.

Click here for a list of Presidents Day activities and lesson plans:

Apples for the teacher has an assortment of sorting, fact based and art activities.

Many arts and crafts projects are available for elementary school grade levels.

The Lesson Planet activities have a series of short essays to have students empathize with the President’s job.