The Complicated History of President’s Day in the United States

Introduction

President’s Day is a strange and often misunderstood holiday. Many people do not agree on what to call it or what it is celebrating. This blog will explore the complicated history of President’s Day. The holiday became a national holiday in 1879 during Rutherford B. Hayes’ presidency.

Origins of President’s Day

President’s Day started as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. The holiday was originally called Washington’s Birthday and was celebrated on February 22nd. In 1879, during Rutherford B. Hayes’ presidency, it became a national holiday.

A picture from 1892 shows the early celebration of Washington’s Birthday, with a decorated streetcar. This simple celebration honored the first president of the United States.

However, as time went on, disagreements arose regarding the holiday. In 1968, some people attempted to change President’s Day to the third Monday of February. It took three years, but eventually, in 1971, President’s Day became the third Monday of February, no longer tied to George Washington’s actual birthday.

Disagreements on Who to Celebrate

With the change in date came disagreements on who should be celebrated on President’s Day. Some believed that only George Washington should be honored, as it was originally his birthday celebration. Others argued that Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February, should be included.

There were even those who believed that all presidents should be celebrated on President’s Day, as the name suggests. The government allowed each state to decide who they would celebrate, resulting in a variety of celebrations across the country.

Disagreements on What to Call It

Alongside the disagreements on who to celebrate, there were also debates on what to call the holiday. Some states continued to call it Washington’s Birthday, while others opted for Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday. Some states used the spelling President’s Day, with an apostrophe between the “t” and “s,” indicating a celebration solely for George Washington. Other states, like the one shown in this video, spell it President’s Day, with the apostrophe after the “s,” encompassing all presidents.

Despite these differences, there are some things that almost everyone agrees on when it comes to President’s Day. Many stores have huge sales, schools and post offices are closed, and George Washington is celebrated in every state.

Changes and Disagreements

In 1968, there was an attempt to change the date of President’s Day from February 22nd. Three years later, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday of February. This change in date caused disagreements among the American people.

Disagreements on Who to Celebrate

With the new date came debates over who should be celebrated on President’s Day. Some argued that the holiday should solely honor George Washington, as it was originally his birthday celebration. Others believed that Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February, should be included in the celebrations.

There were even those who advocated for celebrating all presidents on this day, as the name suggests. This difference in opinion led to a variety of celebrations across the country, with each state making its own decision on who to honor.

Disagreements on What to Call It

Alongside the disagreements over who to celebrate, there were also debates over what to call the holiday. Some states continued to refer to it as Washington’s Birthday, while others chose to acknowledge both Washington and Lincoln with the name Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday.

The spelling of the holiday’s name also caused disagreements. Some states used the spelling President’s Day, with an apostrophe between the “t” and “s,” indicating a celebration solely for George Washington. Other states, like the one in the video, spelled it President’s Day, with the apostrophe after the “s,” encompassing all presidents.

Despite these differences, there are some things that almost everyone agrees on when it comes to President’s Day. Many stores have huge sales on this day, making it a popular time for shopping. Schools and post offices are closed, allowing people to have a day off. And of course, George Washington, the first President of the United States, is celebrated in every state.

Naming Controversies

The name of the holiday also caused disagreements. Some called it Washington’s Birthday, while others preferred Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday. Different states had different variations of the name, including President State and President’s Day. The spelling and punctuation varied depending on the state.

With the change in date came disagreements on who should be celebrated on President’s Day. Some believed that only George Washington should be honored, as it was originally his birthday celebration. Others argued that Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February, should be included. There were even those who believed that all presidents should be celebrated on President’s Day, as the name suggests. The government allowed each state to decide who they would celebrate, resulting in a variety of celebrations across the country.

Alongside the disagreements on who to celebrate, there were also debates on what to call the holiday. Some states continued to call it Washington’s Birthday, while others opted for Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday. Some states used the spelling President’s Day, with an apostrophe between the “t” and “s,” indicating a celebration solely for George Washington. Other states, like the one shown in this video, spell it President’s Day, with the apostrophe after the “s,” encompassing all presidents.

Common Traditions

Despite the disagreements, there are common traditions associated with President’s Day. Many stores have sales on appliances, mattresses, and furniture, making it a popular time for shopping. Schools and post offices are closed on President’s Day, giving people a day off to relax or spend time with family and friends.

Every state celebrates George Washington on President’s Day, as he is the first President of the United States. Some states also include Abraham Lincoln in their celebrations, honoring both of these influential leaders. While there are different opinions on who should be celebrated, George Washington is universally recognized and honored on this day.

Eating Cherries

Eating cherries has become a popular tradition associated with George Washington. Although the famous legend about him chopping down a cherry tree is just a myth, it has become a symbol of his honesty and integrity. To commemorate this, many people enjoy eating cherries on President’s Day.

Conclusion

President’s Day is a complex holiday with a rich history. While there are disagreements over its name and focus, there are also common traditions that unite us all. The holiday originated as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday, but it has since evolved to include other presidents or be a general celebration of all presidents. Despite the differences, President’s Day allows us to reflect on the leaders of our country.

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Indranil Ghosh

Indranil Ghosh

Articles: 260

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