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. wayne

    The government can't figure out what century it was.

    February 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. candy

    Yes, confused because on the United States holiday calendar website this morning clearly showed President's day Febuary 18. I took a photo of it (other people printed it out) and now it says Washington's birthday! Why don't we just make the calendar right and change Independence Day too (July 4)?

    February 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • candy

      WV state does not honor Washington's (AKA President's day) birthday. Everybody had to work. However, MLK day is honor as a Federal holiday. That is how the debate was started this morning, people claimed Washington's birthday is not a Federal holiday but on the U.S goverenment website (marked as President's day this morning) of Federal holiday's clearly has Febuary 18 as a Federal hoilday.

      February 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eleanor Fitzgerald

    I guess I am not losing sleep over this one. George Washington was great. We could not have done it without him. I am really partial to Abraham Lincoln, though. There is no mention in the press, however, of the precedent made by killing people via drones without any sort of trial.. The Magna Carta, the historic basis of our Constitution is ignored and a precedent is set for ignoring the right to a fair trial. Osama Bin Laden was certainly a very bad guy. I am not sad that he is dead, but how does anyone know what to believe in anymore? Maybe we need another Constitutional Convention!

    February 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LDH20

      Lincoln unilaterally suspended habeas corpus, had troops fire on civilians in northern cities, etc. While you may be partial to him, I am sure you’d find something to complain about if you looked a bit deeper, or perhaps it’s OK for Republican presidents to break the law like Bush who allowed wire taps on US citizens without warrant and Regan who committed high treason by selling arms to the Iranians.

      February 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Southernpride423

    I agree. All these holidays my family has to pay out is costing us money. Screw them and the holidays off. They should even work Christmas. If you work hard then have your own business then you can have off. These liberals are just too much.

    February 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ron

    There you go....i bet you could solve the economic problems overnight.

    February 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gobsmacked

    Seriously? There are like 5 government holidays out of a 365 day year. Is that really what is killing your business?

    February 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • frisbe

      No, not like 5, there are in fact eleven (11) federal government holidays per year....but I am all for reducing federal employee's holidays to 5 per year.

      February 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kansas Slim

    Yeah, you business people and conservatives are right!!!! It's all Obama's fault.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rickapolis

    When I was working they could call it any damn thing they wanted. It was a holiday. Good enough for me. Now I'm retired and they can STILL call it anything they want.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fuzzy Thinker

    I am grateful for creating 3-day weekends. Common Sense is beautiful.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sadlyperturbed

    Well for some of you this may have been a paid holiday, but for those of us in the hospitality industry this was nothing but a busier than usual Monday. There is no such thing as a holiday in this field.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Soon-to-be-naturalized

    The government's own citizenship/naturalization test calls it "Presidents' Day" (Question 100 on the current test).

    February 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Srgt.Slaughter

    Most people in my school don't know who the President and Vice President are.

    And I'm in a University

    February 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Peppers

      Eek! Should have chose a better school?

      February 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • One Man Among Others

      You too Brian.

      February 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dazzle ©

    Another good one from @bobcat(iah)!! Thank you!

    February 18, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yossarian

    I've gone to President's Day parties three years in a row now.

    February 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. the prophet

    And the federal government owns your house and all you buy

    February 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThePursuit

      The federal government owns everything, but, shouldn't tax for anything, right? What brand aluminum foil do you prefer?

      February 18, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
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