Digital News Report – President’s Day was originally celebrated in honor of George Washington’s birthday in 1880 by act of Congress. At that time, only offices in Washington D.C. were closed, but the holiday soon spread to other states. By 1885, federal buildings in other states were also closed.
In 1971, the federal holiday was shifted from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Interestingly, the holiday now lands between February 15 and 21, but never on Washington’s Birthday.
There had been proposals to change the holiday to “President’s Day”, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that some advertisers started promoting the holiday as President’s Day. There were no national observances for Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, at that time.
Some state governments began to rename their holiday “President’s Day”, in honor of Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, and other Presidents. In Virginia, where Washington was born, the holiday is still known as “George Washington Day.” In Illinois, President’s day is celebrated, but there is also an observance for Lincoln on February 12.
Not everyone takes a holiday on President’s Day. Like Veterans Day and Columbus Day, many retailers offer special sales. The Post Offices are closed, however other delivery company’s, including Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS), will be open.
Some will spell the celebration as a plural possessive: “Presidents’ Day.” The U.S. government has not yet officially changed the name of the holiday to President’s Day.
The holiday also commemorates the general who created the first military badge of honor, the Purple Heart, which bears his image. The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who are injured in battle.