George Washington’s birthday is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. However, state and local governments and of course retail businesses often use “President’s Day”.
History of George Washington’s birthday aka President’s Day
George Washington is regarded as the “father of our country” because he commanded the national Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) to achieve independence from British rule. Washington also served as the first president of the newly formed United States of America from 1789 to 1797.
(There’s much more to the story if you are so inclined to read about history—fascinating stuff. Really. Head to your nearest library and they’ll hook you up with reading material.)
Throughout the 1800s, Washington’s birthday, February 22, was celebrated with patriotic events rivaling Independence Day, July 4th. The day was designated a federal holiday by Congressional Bill S. 623, introduced in 1878 and passed in 1879.
In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Washington’s birthday celebration to the third Monday, primarily to create a 3-day weekend for federal employees and reduce absenteeism. The holiday is still officially designated as “Washington’s Birthday” in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which specifies holidays for Federal employees.
Over the next several decades, an unofficial shift in the day’s name occurred. President Lincoln’s birthday was also celebrated in some states on February 12. Eventually, George Washington’s birthday holiday expanded to include Lincoln and eventually all presidents, past and present. However, the official federal designation is still George Washington’s birthday.
There is some controversy over celebrating Washington’s birthday on a date other than his birthday, as well as combining the fete with Lincoln and other presidents. But hey, this is America and it’s how we roll.
Whether you think of it as Washington’s Birthday, President’s Day, wahoo-no-school day, or a great day to shop and save, it’s another patriotic holiday along with Independence Day (July 4th) and Veteran’s Day (November 11) when we can observe and reflect on these United States.
President’s Day free and cheap things to do
The following events include free and cheap (admission <$15) things to do on the Monday holiday known as President’s Day. Find out what’s closed and open on holidays.
(If no events are listed below, there are no upcoming President’s Day events in our calendar. We usually update this list beginning in January.)
Thursday, February 20, 2020
But wait, there’s more!
- Find free things to do in February.
- Find more February events and entertainment.
- Here are the best things to buy in February.
- And here’s a list of 101+ always free things to do for fun.
- Find free and cheap things to do every day on the Greater Seattle on the Cheap event calendar.
- Visit the Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page and choose from a menu of free and cheap activities in the Puget Sound region.
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