February 18th, 2013
10:02 AM ET

Uncle Sam says it's not Presidents Day

If you're off school or work Monday in observance of Presidents Day, you've got it all wrong, at least according to the federal government.

Federal offices are closed Monday because it's Washington's Birthday, a holiday to honor the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Confused? Here's what the National Archives says on its website:

"This holiday is designated as 'Washington's Birthday.' Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is Federal policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."

Washington's actual birthday was February 22, and that's when the holiday was originally celebrated. However, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act , which designated the third Monday in February as Washington's Birthday, beginning in 1971.

The Presidents Day moniker evolved later, at least partly to honor Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was February 12, but some hoped it could be a day to honor all presidents.

Of course, states, local governments and businesses are not bound to honor the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, so they can call Monday whatever holiday they like or not have one at all.

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Filed under: Holidays
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. kw

    What happened to 24? The photos jump from the 23rd to the 25th president. Did I miss something? Is Obama the 43rd or 44th president?

    February 18, 2013 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JW

      Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president. Obama is the 44th president. Is Google difficult to use?

      February 18, 2013 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President. So, yes, you did miss something.

      February 18, 2013 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • kw

      @JW Simple, honest mistake. Glad you were here to put me in my place!

      February 18, 2013 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • rh

      I wonder if JW got his daily dose of having to feel superior the others on the internet?

      February 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gezellig

      Then again Polk was for a while considered the 10th President, rather than the 11th, because Tyler, as Vice-President, ascended to the Presidency ("His Accidency"). There was a question whether was President or Acting President. Tyler would have none of it, at his status as President was later confirmed.

      And Tyler, who became President 20 years before Lincoln, still has two living Grandchildren. Go figure...

      February 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Reuben

    Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and the 24th president. He's the only president to have served two non-consecutive terms. President Obama is the 44th president.

    February 18, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    My word, who cares?

    February 18, 2013 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • 11:11

      You should care if you are truly an American. Apathy is what has lead us to the current state of affairs we see today where DHS expresses the view that Patriots like George Washington are now portrayed as terrorist. They are rewriting history right in front of your eyes and burying truth under a mountain of lies. APATHY like yours is what is killing this once great nation.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Not I. It just means I don't get any bills in the mail today.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ 11:11

      Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Who do you think, besides yourself, pays tribute to the dead presidents ?

      February 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Trevlac

      People who idolize personalities more than value principles care.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • RobertCr

      I care. So do a lot of other people, Americans and otherwise. The President is head of state of this country. Look it up in Wikipedia.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Trevlac

      The president is the servant of the people, not a king

      February 18, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • pmmarion

      Robert, it is so much more than that... A people who ignore their own history will soon have no future.. I see it coming and it is a sad thing to see..

      February 18, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • cr

      You guys do realize that George Washington was a slave-holder and a murder of native peoples right?

      Or is that exactly why, in you opinion, he deserves to be elevated to god status?

      February 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1608

      I do, Eaton may not give us this day off next year.

      This co. tells you that they are for you until you need help......

      February 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    Anyone watching Carol C. talk with Anna Navarro? This woman blames the president every chance she gets. For the failure of congress to put forth any jobs legislation on climate change. Oil folks, get rid of oil. They need to make hybrids and electric cars affordable to the masses, more affordable economy and none oil users, cars sold to the common people will make the jobs go round. (Lower the price of the cars). Don't rely on the wealthy to buy the cars when they make their money in oil, the masses make the jobs go round. More people at work, more people making money and paying taxes.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • NYinNC

      It's all Bush's fault...still.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Ny- don't believe I mentioned him here. Nice try.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • RobertCr

      The President is head of state, so in a sense is responsible for everything the Government does. In reality, he has very limited power. The federal departments are self-perpetuating bureaucracies, the secretaries are little more than figureheads. Only Congress can appropriate funds, levy taxes or write legislation. Still, people blame the President for anything that goes wrong in the country.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. empresstrudy

    I'm sure Roland Martin will claim this is racist somehow.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. Daniel

    Do I have to pretend to honor Obama on this day? I haven't had respect for the President in the last 13 years.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      No, not if you don't want to. But just to be fair, you should include the rest of them too.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • RobertCr

      The day honors the office of the Presidency, the supreme governing authority of our country. Your personal opinion of the person holding the office at the moment is irrelevant.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • oneSTARman

      I Lost a LOT of Respect for about HALF of America – When I saw How SHAMEFULLY They Disrespect The President – In Ways that No Other President – No Matter How THEY Deserved It – Had EVER Been Disrespected BEFORE – Just Because of the RACISM That Never Really Went Away – But Just Got QUIETER – Than The RECENT Past When the "N Word" was in COMMON Usage.

      February 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jan

    When we started moving commemorative dates (like Washington's Birthday) around to make long weekends, we embarked on a path toward changing the meaning of our holidays from their unique remembrances to being all about personal gratification, consumerism, and marketing. The change to "Presidents' Day" was at the same time as the loss of Lincoln's birthday as a holiday, to compensate for the addition of the Martin Luther King holiday without slighting Lincoln's memory, making the single holiday (Presidents' Day) stand for both previously recognized presidential birthday holidays.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Moooorrrreeeeee

    That gallery is like an evolution of photographic technology. Very interesting.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Charlie

    If I don't get a day off work, it's not a holiday ... therefore, "President's Day" or whatever you want to call it is just "Monday" to me.

    February 18, 2013 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bill Richardson

    I just found out today that certain university systems opted for MLK day over Presidents Day because the curriculum will not allow them to take both holidays. My how times have changed!

    February 18, 2013 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • RobertCr


      February 18, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • oneSTARman

      Your Point Being – That Way Down South In the Land of Cotton – Old Times there are STILL Forgotten?

      February 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. confused

    I'm confused here, places are closed on MLK da to observe, his 'had a dream of everyone not working for a day', and nothing is observed by alot of places now on Washingtons's birthday, Lincolns birthday, etc. Why not? These guys did more then MLK ever did

    February 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1608

      Good name for you........

      February 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      By what measure? Washington and Lincoln already have their faces emblazoned on our currency anyway.

      February 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. oneSTARman

    I remember in the Paleolithic Era of my Youth – Cutting Out Construction Paper Silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington as well as Red Paper Hearts to Glue to White Paper Doilies to decorate the Walls of our School Classrooms every February.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Yes thank you, and we actually learned something! – and we celebrated both Washington and Lincoln – now life is lumped together – one day – President's day so no one knows anything about Lincoln or Washington of the younger generation.

      February 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jed Clampett

      Ah yes!

      Back when schools had funding for art supplies.

      February 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @oneSTARman, I remember those days too. When I used to teach, MLK became part of the entire February curriculum.

      February 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Not a Scholar

    Just America diluting it's history in the chase for political correctness.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OldJoe

    President's Day?
    Who cares?

    We have the day off, that's all that matters.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • TBall

      I'm guessing you think the same on Memorial and Veterans days, correct?

      February 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John N. Seattle, WA

    Doesn't really matter...unless you are working for the Government or a bank, you are working today anyway...

    February 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
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