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Presidents' Day in the United States

Washington's Birthday, also known as Presidents' Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. The day honors presidents of the United States, including George Washington, the USA's first president.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial depicts George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (from left to right).

©iStockphoto.com/Richard McMillin

Is Presidents' Day a Public Holiday?

Presidents' Day is a public holiday in most US states. Nonetheless, many businesses are open as usual and many stores hold sales on Washington's Birthday. Many delivery services, except for the Post Office, have a regular service and many, but not all, public transit systems operate on regular schedules. Some schools close for the whole week for a mid-winter recess. According to some government sources, Indiana observes the Washington's birthday holiday in December.

What Do People Do?

Washington's Birthday officially honors the life and work of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The day commemorates past presidents of the USA. Washington's Birthday is sometimes known as Presidents' Day. This is because while most states have adopted Washington's Birthday, some states officially celebrate Presidents' Day.

Some states pay particular attention to Abraham Lincoln, as his birthday was also in mid-February. In the weeks or days leading up to the holiday, schools often organize events and lessons for students about the presidents of the United States and George Washington in particular. It is a popular day for stores to start their sales.

The US federal holiday is on the third Monday of February each year, but records show that George Washington's birthday is on February 22.

Background

George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. His first term as president was from 1789 to 1793 and his second term from 1793 to 1797. Before he became president, he played important roles in the military, leading the American Continental Army to victory over the British in 1783. Washington is often seen as the father of the United States and is probably the best known American politician ever.

The likeness and name of George Washington can still be seen in many places in the United States. There is the portrait of him and three other American presidents carved into Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. His image is also used on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. The capital of the United States, Washington D.C., Washington State and at least three universities are named after him.

Washington's Birthday was first celebrated as a holiday in the District of Columbia in 1880. It was made a federal holiday in 1885. The holiday was originally held on the anniversary of George Washington's birth, on February 22. In 1971, this holiday was moved to the third Monday in February.

This holiday is legally designated as "Washington’s Birthday". Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is the federal government’s policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.

Presidents' Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonFeb 15Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2010FriNov 26Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2010ThuDec 23Presidents' DayState holidayIndiana
2011MonFeb 21Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2011FriNov 25Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2011FriDec 23Presidents' DayState holidayIndiana
2012MonFeb 20Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2012FriNov 23Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2012MonDec 24Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2013MonFeb 18Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2013FriNov 29Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2013TueDec 24Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2014MonFeb 17Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2014FriNov 28Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2014FriDec 26Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2015MonFeb 16Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2015FriNov 27Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2015ThuDec 24Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2016MonFeb 15Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2016FriNov 25Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2016FriDec 23Presidents' DayState holidayIndiana
2016TueDec 27Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia
2017MonFeb 20Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2017FriNov 24Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2017TueDec 26Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2018MonFeb 19Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2018FriNov 23Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2018MonDec 24Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2019MonFeb 18Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2019FriNov 29Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico
2019TueDec 24Presidents' DayState holidayGeorgia, Indiana
2020MonFeb 17Presidents' DayFederal HolidayAll except DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, NC, NM, RI, WI
2020FriNov 27Presidents' DayState holidayNew Mexico

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