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Presidents’ Day

February 13, 2017
blog

On the third Monday of February Americans celebrate Presidents’ Day. What is the history of it? Why did they choose February for celebration? How huge is the importance of the holiday? Why do some states also celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday? Is it a holiday of all or only two presidents of the USA?

Background

February is a unique month. First of all, it is the shortest one. Secondly, it is overfull with days off and celebrations. 12 February used to be the celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday; 22 February was Washington’s Birthday plus Valentine’s Day between them two. The first two were official days off for children and parents earlier, nowadays only one left. It is Presidents’ Day. In addition, only federal employees enjoy it in full, as private companies and schools usually work. What led to such change? Did Americans forget about their history? Opinions about the reason for contemporary celebration of Presidents’ Day differ. Some Americans believe that they celebrate the birthdays of two presidents in one day, others think that they celebrate Washington’s birthday, but in more convenient manner; there is also an opinion that Presidents Day honors the memory of all American presidents.

Years of Change

In 1968, the Congress adopted the Uniform Holidays Bill aimed to establish more three-day holidays for federal workers. Consequently, since 1971 the celebration of George Washington’s birthday was shifted to the third Monday of February. But, if people continue celebrating the birthday of “the father of a nation”, as Americans like to call Washington, in February, then why was the holiday renamed and got a more general name?

Nixon’s and Other Views

President Nixon was the one who accented that the third Monday of February is a holiday of all presidents of the USA including him. Some part of the population accepted this concept, but another, which highly appreciated Washington’s contribution to the American history, tried to protest. In 2001, “Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act” was introduced.  This act underlined the significance of both presidents for America. Washington was the first president of the USA. He commanded the Continental Army and got the victory in Revolutionary War. He is known as a father and creator of America. Abraham Lincoln is the 16th president of the USA, who led the country through its bloodiest time of the Civil War and political crisis. Under difficult circumstances, he coped with the modernization of the economy, abolishing of slavery and preservation of the union. The attempt to resuscitate the honoring of these presidents failed and was not even voted.

Nowadays, each state honors American Presidents in its own manner. Some celebrate only Presidents’ Day, others also commemorate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays. There are also states, which omit all these holidays and prefer work to celebration. Such diversity in the acceptation of these holidays brought to the confusion around the subject. It is great to find out the truth and plunge into the history for a while.

 

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