12 Amazing Presidents Day Facts For Kids (2023 Updated)
Presidents’ Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday in February to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The day is occasionally seen as a celebration of all U.S. presidents’ births and lifetimes. Most states recognize this day as a state holiday, Presidents’ Day, and Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday. Different states have varied names to describe the holiday. Some state holidays may honor Washington only, while others honor both Lincoln and Washington or a separate group of American presidents, depending on the relevant law (such as Washington and Thomas Jefferson, born in April).
Let us read some interesting facts about Presidents Day.
12 Fun Facts about Presidents Day
US citizens started celebrating Presidents Day right after George Washington died in 1799.
Informally known as Washington Day, George Washington’s birthday was honored after his passing in 1799. Many celebrated this holiday during the 1800s to honor the legacy of a person who helped shape America. A resolution allowed the reburial and internment of George Washington’s body in the Capitol Building in 1832 and the construction of the Washington Monument, which sparked even greater nationwide festivities for Presidents Day.
Presidents Day became a federal holiday in the late 1870s.
Steven Wallace Dorsey suggested making George Washington’s birthday a government holiday, joining the four already-approved bank holidays from 1870 after President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law in 1879. An Act of Congress established the federal holiday in honor of Washington in 1879 for government offices in Washington, and it was expanded to all national offices in 1885. The holiday, observed on February 22, coincided with Washington’s birthday according to the Gregorian calendar and was the first official holiday to honor an American president.
The first official Presidents Day celebration happened in Washington, DC.
After Rutherford B. Hayes passed the law to make George Washington’s birthday a federal holiday, US citizens from all over the country celebrated the day by coming out in big crowds and celebrating on the streets of Washington, DC. This soon became an annual celebration in every state.
Presidents Day is not celebrated on George Washington’s birthday since the 1960s.
Before the late 1960s, Presidents’ Day was still celebrated on the anniversary of Washington’s birth. To provide workers with more three-day weekends, Illinois Senator Robert McClory devised the “Uniform Monday Act,” which moved important bank holidays to Mondays. It was intended that this would lead to greater productivity and fewer employee absence. Unsurprisingly, both the private sector and the labor union supported this notion. The Presidents Day federal holiday was moved to the third Monday in February on January 1, 1971, due to the passage of the Uniform Monday act. Since Presidents Day never falls on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22, it is somewhat misleading to refer to it as “Washington’s Birthday,” which falls between February 15 and 21.
Presidents Day was called Washington’s birthday till the late 1980s.
Given Lincoln’s legacy and the closeness of his birthday to George Washington’s (February 22), people suggested during the debate over the Uniform Monday bill that the holiday should be called Presidents’ Day to honor both of their birthdays. Although many states observed Lincoln’s birthday, it was never a recognized federal holiday. Sadly, the name change was rejected by Congress after a lengthy debate. Presidents’ Day, however, came to be widely used after the Uniform Monday Act came into force in 1971, partly due to shops using that term to advertise bargains given the holiday’s proximity to Lincoln’s birthday. Public celebrations are typically held to commemorate Presidents’ Day in Washington, D.C., and across the nation.
Some US states have their own Presidents Day celebrations.
Several states have declared state holidays in the President’s honor that don’t coincide with the third Monday in February. On the same day as the federal holiday, Massachusetts officially observes “Washington’s Birthday.” Following state law, the governor is required to proclaim “Presidents Day” every year on May 29—John F. Kennedy‘s birthday—to recognize the contributions of the four presidents having Massachusetts ancestry. While Washington’s Birthday is a federal holiday in California, Connecticut, Missouri, and Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is still observed as a state holiday on February 12, regardless of the day of the week.
Two US Presidents share February as their birth month.
Seeing that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays falling in February was a big deal back in the late 1980s, it is interesting to note that two more Presidents were born in the same month. The two Presidents are William Harrison, the 9th US President, and Ronald Regan, the 40th US President.
Although after the Uniform Monday Act was passed, all citizens started celebrating the previous, present, and future Presidents of the country on Presidents Day, not just George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Every year in the US Senate, George Washington’s farewell speech is read on Presidents Day.
After 20 years of public service to the United States, American President George Washington wrote Washington’s Farewell Address as a farewell to “friends and fellow citizens.” He penned it before leaving for his residence at Mount Vernon in Virginia near the end of his second term as president. It was nearly instantly reproduced in newspapers all around the nation and eventually published as a pamphlet. It is a typical republican phrase that alerts Americans to the political pitfalls they must avoid if they are to uphold their principles.
Residents of Philadelphia signed a petition in January 1862, during the American Civil War, requesting that Congress read Washington’s Farewell Address in honor of the 130th anniversary of his birth. Washington’s address was initially read in the House of Representatives in February 1862, and by 1899, reading it in both houses had become customary. In 1984, the House of Representatives stopped reading the Washington address, but the Senate has kept up the custom ever since. Since 1896, the Senate has chosen a senator from each political party to read the speech aloud on the Senate floor as part of the celebration of Washington’s birthday. Additionally, readers make an entry in a black, leather-bound journal kept by the Secretary of the Senate after finishing.
Four other countries celebrate Presidents Day.
Although Presidents Day is very much an American holiday, it is only celebrated in the United States and its territories like Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands; five other countries have their own Presidents Day celebrations. These countries are Equatorial Guinea, Botswana, Kazakhstan, Palau, and Tajikistan. Botswana and Palau have a one-day public holiday in honor of all the Presidents that served the country. Kazakhstan celebrates the first president of the country after gaining independence. And Tajikistan started celebrating Presidents Day since 2016.
There are many Presidents Day traditions in the US.
Parades and patriotic celebrations with family and friends have been traditional ways for people to mark the occasion. Washington and Lincoln are most commonly celebrated, while celebrations in honor of Jefferson follow closely. Cherry-based delicacies are consumed because the original purpose of this festival was to commemorate Washington’s birthday. This is due to the well-known tale of Washington chopping a cherry tree. Apart from this, his farewell speech is read in history classes and on online discussion boards.
In Virginia, there are month-long parades celebrating Presidents Day.
George Washington was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, so there is no doubt that the state’s residents celebrate Presidents Day better than the rest of the country. South of Fairfax County, on a hill overlooking the Potomac River, is Mount Vernon, the treasured residence of George Washington. One of the few occasions a year when people can visit this renowned estate without a fee is on Presidents Day. Other than this, The largest parade in America honoring George Washington’s birth is the George Washington Birthday Parade. All the presidents of the United States are honored during a month-long parade that concludes with a spectacular party on George Washington’s birthday.
Thirty-five parks in the US are named after various American Presidents.
Parks are a big part of Presidents Day celebrations in the US, so around 35 parks are named after American Presidents to pay homage to all the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed for the country. Out of the 35 parks, more than half of them are named after President Theodore Roosevelt. Some of the parks commemorate the birthplace of past presidents like John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover. Abraham Lincoln’s home is now a national historical park in central Kentucky.
Presidents Day is an important day in the US. It holds political and cultural values that all the citizens hold near and dear to their hearts. We hope you enjoyed reading these facts and learned something new about Presidents Day.