Happy President’s Day!

President George Washington tries to make sense of the Metro.

President George Washington tries to make sense of the Metro. Still image from Mt Vernon’s web series of General Washington in modern DC.

Washington’s Birthday is observed the third Monday of February in honor George Washington, the first President of the United States. This date is commonly called Presidents’ Day and many groups honor the legacy of past presidents on this date.

Washington’s actual birthday, Feb. 22,  became a U.S. government holiday back in 1885. In the early 1950′s, there was a movement led by a coalition of travel organizations to create three-day weekends by moving the celebration of some holidays to Mondays. One of the suggestions was to create a Presidents’ Day between Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday, which was a holiday in some states. A few states tried the new arrangement, but it was not universally adopted across the country. Also in the early 1950′s there was a proposal to make March 4 — the original presidential inauguration day — a holiday to honor all presidents, but that went nowhere.

The National Holiday Act of 1971 passed by Congress created three-day weekends for federal employees by moving the celebration of some holidays to Mondays, although states did not have to honor them. 

General George Washington checks out the offerings at the food trucks parked near the White House.

General George Washington checks out the offerings at the food trucks parked near the White House.

Although the federal holiday is marked on the third Monday in February, there is no agreed-upon name, no universal agreement on who is being celebrated, and the use of the apostrophe in the name is varied: Sometimes it isn’t used at all (as in Presidents Day), sometimes it is placed between the last two letters (President’s Day) and sometimes it is after the last letter (Presidents’ Day).

So – wishing all a Happy Presidents’ Day, or President’s Day, or Presidents Day – or whatever.