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. Scott

    I'm celebrating Birthington's Washday.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. One L

    It's nice commuting to work today, the subways and streets are half empty!! Thank you!!

    February 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nostrildamus

    Ah, I see. Civil disobedience should not be honored, but martial disobedience should. Got it.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • theorycraft



      February 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      "Ah, I see. Civil disobedience should not be honored, but martial disobedience should. Got it."

      Apparently you missed the recent holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Selective reality much?

      February 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeanie Coolahan

    Sounds like you are a "bit" prejudiced Ed Charles.....

    February 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • messickc

      Prejudiced? He is full on racist.

      February 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • mique

      Jed, you forgot "male".

      February 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PetePete1

    I,m sure Obamahood will make his b-day a national holiday.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mique

      His plea for better education won't help you now, will it? Old dog, new tricks and all that. Must be hard to move forward wrapped in a sheet.

      February 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tonyh110

    Well working in private manufacturing I dont get a day off – so its all frikkin academic to me

    February 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheila

      I work in a consulting firm and we don't have off MLK Day, President's Day, Columbus Day or Veterans Day. But then, shouldn't only veterans get Veteran's Day off? I mean, really – why should anyone who wasn't out there to serve, fight and die have a day off?

      February 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lisa Turtle

    @Ed Charles, I love how you say trouble maker LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    February 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Greg Faith

    I'm open seven days a week. No biggie to me just open as usual . More Money for me and the people I owe it to.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CNNFLReader

    Well, the law that codifies FEDERAL holidays (5 U.S.C. 6103) actually reads as "Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr". That does not have the words "Civil Rights" in it at all. The "Civil Rights Day" someone is referring to, is a State level holiday and is only observed by a couple of States.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lol

    "Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act , which designated the third Monday in February as Washington's Birthday, beginning in 1971."

    Yup, so all the Fed and State employees could get a little nice 3-day weekend...in addition to the other dozen or so holidays that the typical American worker DOESN'T get. Nothing like working 35 hours a week to get full benefits, a pension AND a holiday every other week. Plus; It would be terrible if we had to celebrate someone's birthday on their actual birthday...Ya hear that Jesus! From now on, your birthday is Monday! Oh well, I guess someone has to have off work other than the unemployed masses to take advantage of all the President's Day sales going on.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • modestlittleperson

      I work for local government. I don't have the day off.

      February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheila

      A dozen or so? Let's see. Federal workers have New Years Day, MLK Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. That's 10, total. Most workers get New Years, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So Fed workers have – count em – 4 days that many workers don't have. Where do you get the "dozen or so" idea?

      February 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Turtle

      I'm a state worker and don't have the day off. So boo-ya. You're just jealous bc you have to work and some people get to stay home. Get a better job and stop whining.

      February 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq


      February 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BanGuns

    I could really careless about any of them

    February 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MrBo

    Troll harder

    February 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    More proof that the post office should have picked Monday to stop delivering mail so we wouldn't ever have to figure out which Mondays were these idiotic holidays that only the government and banks take off.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Post Offices, Banks, Schools, most businesses, all close for the holiday.....Your point?

      February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheila

      Half the businesses in my office building are closed. Some, like us, are open. Your point?

      February 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Stock markets aren't government

      February 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gerbs

    I refer to this holiday as "In-Between Day" because by definition it will always fall IN BETWEEN Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. There is also a theme song by The Cure.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Troy

    Please do the world a favor and rid us of your grotesque presence.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
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