Washington's Birthday in United States
Quick FactsWashington's Birthday, or Presidents' Day, honors the life and work of the first president of the United States, George Washington.
Alternative namePresidents' Day
See list of observations below
Washington's Birthday is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. It originally honored the life and work of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Now, other presidents are also honored on this day, which is why it is often known as Presidents' Day.
George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. This illustration is based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/DaddyBit
What do people do?
Washington's Birthday officially honors the life and work of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Some people see it as an opportunity to commemorate all past presidents of the United States. 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.
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.
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.
Washington's Birthday Observances