For many Americans, President’s Day, which always falls on the third Monday in February, is a great excuse to have an extra lie in or go away on a long weekend vacation. It’s also the day where all the presidents in American history are remembered and honored for their hard work in making America the country it is today.
It’s no coincidence that this national holiday comes after those bleak weeks following the winter holiday season. In 1971, the holiday was moved to create more 3-day weekends so America could regain nationwide productivity after a much-needed restorative long weekend. So make the most of it and put your feet up…
What is the history behind President’s Day?
Well, it hasn’t always been known as President’s Day. It was originally named Washington Day following the death of George Washington in 1799 and his birthday was then unofficially celebrated as a day of remembrance.
In 1832, a resolution allowed the removal and internment of George Washington’s body in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. and the installment of the Washington Monument in 1848 saw nationwide celebrations.
In the late 1870s, Steven Wallace Dorsey proposed that Washington’s birthday should become a national holiday. Thereafter, President Rutherford B. Hayes made it law in 1879, adding the holiday to the existing four bank holidays previously approved in 1870.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that the national holiday would always fall on a Monday to increase the number of 3-day weekend for workers. We owe our extra lie-in to Senator Robert McClory of Illinois who created a plan, what’s known as the Uniform Monday’s Act. The hope was that it would increase productivity and decrease employee absenteeism. The labour union and private sector agreed with this idea.
In 1971, Richard M. Nixon made the executive order to pass the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans’ Day to Monday. With the date landing in the middle of Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthday, it became known as Presidents’ Day. Having the national holiday would also come to benefit retail stores who traditionally advertise their special holiday sales during the bank holidays.
By the mid-1980s, Presidents’ Day became the common term and continues to be called as such to this day.
President’s Day by Numbers
3 – the number of universities named after George Washington.
5 – the number of national parks named after Roosevelt.
6’4″ – President Lincoln’s height, making him the tallest president.
4 – the number of American Presidents with a February birthday.
32 – the number of days after becoming president that William Henry Harrison passed away.
5’4″ – President James Madison’s height, making him the shortest president ever.
42 – the age of President Teddy Roosevelt at the start of his tenure, making him the youngest to ever hold office.
2006 – the year a Grammy Award was given to Barack Obama for his voiceover on the audiobook “Dreams From My Father.”
How will you be celebrating President’s Day? Do you think long weekends boost productivity?