Every third Monday in February, Americans celebrate President’s Day – also known as Washington’s Birthday. But where exactly does this US holiday come from and what customs are there? We have put together the most important facts about President’s Day for you.
George Washington – 1st President of the USA
According to acronymmonster, George Washington is one of the founding fathers of the USA. Not only did he fight for the independence of the New World as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, he also became the first President of the United States of America, which he led for two terms from 1789 to 1797.
As the first president of this new nation, his ideals and political decisions had a decisive influence on the future development of the USA. George Washington thus laid the cornerstone that made the United States of America today’s world power.
To this day, Americans honor George Washington’s life and service to the United States in a variety of ways:
- Washington DC, the capital of the USA, was named after him
- Washington state bears his name
- the Washington Monument in Washington DC was built in his honor
- his face was immortalized in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota
- it adorns the 1 dollar bill
- some universities were named after him
The origin of President’s Day
On February 22, 1880, George Washington’s birthday was officially celebrated for the first time in the District of Columbia and was set as a public holiday from 1885.
However, it was not until 1971 that the American government decided to always celebrate Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday in February as President’s Day. It was also a way of honoring the life and ministry of President Abraham Lincoln’s 16th birthday, February 12th.
The holiday is known everywhere as President’s Day, and it will surprise even many Americans that its official name is still Washington’s Birthday. Attempts were made to rename this day as President’s Day, but this attempt failed in Congress.
Traditions and Customs on President’s Day
In Virginia, the adopted home of George Washington, President’s Day is celebrated throughout February with numerous events, attended by thousands of Americans every year. The highlight is always the big birthday parade in the old town of Alexandria with festive motif wagons, music groups and horse-drawn carriages.
School and youth groups also re-enact important events from the time of George Washington, giving visitors the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in 18th century life.
The Mount Vernon Estate on the Potomac River is also a very popular destination in February – especially for tourists. George Washington and his wife Martha lived here for 40 years and you can still get a good impression of what life was like back then.
SCHOOL-FREE TO HONOR THE PRESIDENT?
Although President’s Day is an official holiday, each state decides whether or not there are school holidays. So it happens that on this third Monday in February some schools are open, but often there are no regular classes. Rather, small events are held in honor of the president or the US presidents are at least discussed in the lessons.
BARGAIN HUNT ON PRESIDENT’S DAY
The holiday has meanwhile also become very important for shopping centers. Most shops were closed until the 1980’s. Today, however, there are many special sales on this day and the holiday has become a popular occasion for attractive discounts.
A few weeks before the holiday, stores start promoting their President’s Day offers. After all the Christmas offers in December, this is the first important sales day in the new year, along with Valentine’s Day promotions.