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President's Day Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has fifteen years of teaching experience, primarily in Special Education and Gifted Education at the K-12 level. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education, K-12. In addition, she has a M.A.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted, K-12. Angela has had several research and review articles published in education journals.

Do you know what the real name for President's Day is? In this lesson, discover the history behind this holiday, and find out why it is always in February.

Three-Day Weekend

Everybody likes vacations. A day off from work or school is something to look forward to! Many people associate President's Day with a long, three-day weekend in February. But there is important history behind this holiday.

President's Day is a government holiday that celebrates the United States presidents on the third Monday in February each year. Let's discover more about how this holiday came to be.

Washington's Birthday

Did you know that the real name for President's Day is Washington's Birthday? Our first president, George Washington, was born on February 22, 1732. So after his death in 1799, February 22nd became an important day to honor his life and work.

George Washington
Washington

But it wasn't until 1879 that Washington's Birthday became a federal, or government, holiday. When President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law, it became official. It was the first federal holiday to celebrate an individual person. Other federal holidays we celebrate include Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Which one is your favorite?

Date Change

How would you feel if you had to celebrate your birthday on a different day? A lot of kids wouldn't think that was fair. In 1968, the United States Congress decided that it would be in the American worker's best interest to change the celebration of Washington's Birthday to a Monday. This way workers could enjoy a three-day weekend. The bill was called the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, and it changed several holidays to fall on a Monday.

During this time, it was suggested that the name of the holiday, Washington's Birthday, be changed to President's Day. Abraham Lincoln's birthday is on February 12th, and many people wanted to honor him, too. Believe it or not, the name was never formally changed. However, the name President's Day was catchy and became popular in the 1980s. Today, most people call it this.

Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln

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