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. Tommie

    It sucks when you have to take care of able bodied people playing the system

    February 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      So taking a day off that your company allows is now "playing the system"? Are you serious or just have some ADHD issues?

      February 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • theorycraft

      how is that a ADD issue? as a person with that mental disability I think I'm offended.

      February 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aunt Rancor

    You people are just so funny! God love ya!

    February 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Don

    All I see are the schools closed, again and kids getting dumber because of the many obscure holidays in this country. They have far too many days off with the relative amount of information to be learned within a school year.

    Added to that are the inefficiencies that are created by governments closing down so much and it equates to money lost.

    Christmas day
    New Years day
    4th of July
    Maybe your birthday
    ...........Those, are valid days off.

    February 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      Your opinion is duly noted and ignored as inane.

      February 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Why do you allow Christmas and New Year's Day, yet ignore Thanksgiving?

      And why do you have the bizarre notion that a couple of days off (so teachers can attend workshops and make better lesson plans) in any way makes kids dumber. There are a lot of reasons why our schools underperform, and the number of holidays is not one of them.

      February 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • MilitaryAF

      The U.S. has the FEWEST number of holidays of all countries around the world. We're getting worked into the ground & have idiots like you saying we still have too many!

      February 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • NJRP

      Obscure? What year were you born? Presidents Day (or Washington's Birthday) has been celebrated in schools as long as can be remembered.

      As for your list of "valid" holidays... 4th of July is not really a school holiday because most students (those who don't go to Summer School at least) already have it off. And "your birthday" is not a valid holiday in any work-force that I know of unless you use PTO. The same goes for school kids.

      February 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • gremlinus

      Whatever. Many schools stopped giving President's Day off when they started giving MLK day off in the 1980s. There aren't that many holidays that public schools get off. MLK, Memorial Day and Spring break in the Spring, Veteran's Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving break in the fall. And they've been getting those for decades.

      February 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wastrel

      Thanks for celebrating my birsthday, anyway.

      February 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Balls of Steel

    It's true, it's Washington's birthday. Lincoln birthday witch was a week after or before our founding father's day was ditched to make room for Martin Luther King's day.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John Tighe

    "Tea Party"?
    I think that the historical event that most closely fits these yokels is, "The Whiskey Rebellion" that happened during Washington's time in office.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sqeptiq

    "single to Paul Revere"???

    February 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pplr

    I think having election day as a day of for all but certain workers is an interesting idea.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    Sorry but Washington was the founder of our country. His Birthday is not an "obscure holiday". People just feel sorry for themselves cause they don't get the day off – whiny complainers.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • pjones006

      He was not the founder of this country, he was our first president.

      February 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sqeptiq

    Did oxycontin make you lose your grip on reality, Rush?

    February 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. svann

    We used to get both Lincoln and Washington's birthdays. They changed it to President's day to cheat us out of a holiday.

    February 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Gazzy

      You must work for the Government to feel cheated

      February 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. little mister©

    We arent talking about mlk,so can it! Always someone playing the race card.
    &who cares about presidents day anyway? Just want a sanctioned day off.thats all

    February 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Karla Katz

    Oh, sure.... but, don't you DARE get that holiday in January confused..

    February 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Argyle

    I'll never understand the educational system around here.

    MLK Day-No school for the kids.
    Birthday of the man who lead to our country's victory and liberty-Everyone go to work and school.

    February 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pete/Ark

    Holiday? I work in retail. What's a "holiday"????

    February 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. u.s.slave

    More like dictators day

    February 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Seriously!? The USA has it better than most of the world, excluding Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada. You have heat, Internet, food, a home, freedom of speech, religion, and freedom of press. You are the people holding us back, our government was designed to incorporate the ideas of the people, but whenever your kind of people puts in an idea and its wrong, you don't correct it and evolve the policy, you throw the leader and the nation under the bus! We aren't all mindless uncultured, unpolitical, oppressed citizens, if you don't want to be under this so called "dictatorship", then leave, plenty of other great nations, Switzerland, France, South Korea, find a culture you like, you are free and encouraged to explore the world, don't just sit and complain about how it sucks

      February 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
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