Why ‘Presidents’ Day’ Actually Goes By Another Official Name
An official list of federal holidays in the United States won’t feature “Presidents’ Day” among the observed holidays. Some may say that’s preposterous, as they’re certain that post offices and other federal entities are closed on such a day each February. While the third Monday of February is commonly referred to as “Presidents’ Day” throughout the United States, the day is legally referred to as “Washington’s Birthday.”
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, this holiday is designated as “Washington’s Birthday” in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for federal employees. Though other institutions, such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is OPM policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.
History of Washington’s Birthday
The idea to give presidents a little extra fanfare originally was established in 1885 in recognition of George Washington. After his death in 1799, Washington’s birthday on February 22 became a day of remembrance, according to History. com. Its observance as an official holiday was signed into law in 1879 by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Originally, the holiday only applied to the District of Columbia, but in 1885 it was expanded to the entire country.
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