Officially known as Washington’s Birthday (even though it isn’t actually on Washington’s birthday!), Presidents Day is an American federal holiday that takes place on the third Monday in February. This year it will be on February 17.
But we gotta say, for a holiday which appears to be a simple observance of a president’s birthday, it sure does get complicated! For example, some states call it President’s Day (note the singular possessive apostrophe) or Washington and Lincoln Day.
Regardless of what it’s called, it’s a chance for Americans to honor those who’ve held the highest office in the land.
Presidents Day timeline
It's not Washington's birthday, but ...
The federal holiday was moved to the third Monday in February as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which takes effect on this date.
Congress created a federal holiday
Congress voted to honor the nation's first president with a federal holiday, expanding the designation nationwide in 1885.
- February 12, 1809
Abraham Lincoln was born
The other president most associated with the Presidents' Day holiday was born in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky.
- July 4, 1776
The United States of America declared independence
The Second Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, adopted the Declaration of Independence.
- February 22, 1732
The first president was born
George Washington was born to a wealthy family in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
Presidents Day Activities
Have a wintry cookout
Although cookouts and barbecues are generally reserved for the spring and summer, the third Monday in February might be a good time to fire up the charcoal and warm up with some good grilled eats.
Visit Alexandria, Virginia
George Washington's adopted hometown has celebrations throughout the month of February.
Memorize the presidents — all 45 of them
A fun activity for curious adults and eager-to-learn children might be reciting and then memorizing the succession of presidents — from good ol' George Washington to the present day.
5 Authentic Pieces Of Presidential History
What year was Washington born?
The Julian calendar says Washington was born February 11, 1731, while the Gregorian (which we now use) says February 22, 1732.
Washington did tell a lie
In 1780, Gen. George Washington deceived the British military during the Revolutionary War by lying about the location of the French army.
It's Presidents' Day — or maybe not
The location of the apostrophe in the name of the holiday continues to be a source of confusion, with various states and municipalities placing the apostrophe according to their local traditions.
The White House is home, sweet, home
The first president to live in the White House was John Adams, the second president of the United States.
Madison wins the prize for shortest president.
The nation's fourth president, James Madison, was 5-foot-4 inches tall.
Why We Love Presidents Day
History is fascinating
Studying presidential administrations take us deeper into American — and world — history.
George Washington told a lie
Many generations of schoolchildren were taught that Washington never told a lie, but that is just a myth. In fact, some of the lies he told helped the newly formed United States defeat the British in the American Revolution. It's good to learn the truth about our nation's history, even if it deflates unnecessary myths.
Washington is No. 1 — or maybe that's Lincoln
The two presidents most closely associated with Presidents' Day are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — both of whom are generally considered among the greatest presidents this country has produced. It's a good idea to have a holiday which honors them.