Washington's Birthday

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Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February every year.[1] As the name suggests, it celebrates the nation's first president, George Washington.

There have been efforts to change the name of the holiday to "Presidents' Day" (as Abraham Lincoln was also born in February) and, while those efforts have failed, the observance is commonly but falsely referred to as Presidents' Day.[2][3]


When Washington was born, the Julian Calendar was still in use and his birthday was dated February 11, 1731.[1][4] In 1752, Britain and its colonies, including the Thirteen Colonies, switched to the newer and more accurate Gregorian Calendar, and Washington's birthdate was moved to February 22, 1732.[1][4]

The holiday was originally celebrated on George Washington's actual birthday, which is February 22, and it was celebrated by Americans long before it was declared a legal federal holiday by Congress.[1] It was publicly celebrated in the late 18th Century when George Washington was still President of the United States. Washington's Birthday became an official federal holiday in 1879, and it along with all other federal holidays became pertinent for all federal employees in 1885.[1] In 1968, the United States Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act, which changed the official observance of Washington's Birthday from his actual birthday to the third Monday in February,[1] something supported by labor unions and big business organizations.[5] This meant that the holiday can only occur between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21, which means that it is always after Lincoln's birthday and before Washington's birthday.[6] Some political leaders wanted to change the official name of the holiday to "Presidents' Day" to honor both Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is February 12) and Washington but that proposal was rejected by Congress.

President Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12, never became a federal holiday but was celebrated as a legal holiday in many states outside the old Confederacy.[7]

Observance by states

State governments are not bound to have a state observance of that day, but all fifty states and the District of Columbia do. 29 states and the District of Columbia officially call the day George Washington's Birthday.[8] Georgia and Iowa are among those states, but they do not have a day off for state employees that day. 13 states officially call the day "President's Day". 5 states officially call the day "Washington's and Lincoln's Birthday." Alabama officially calls the day "Washington's and Jefferson's Birthday." In Arkansas, the day is officially "Washington's birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day." In Colorado, the day is officially "Washington-Lincoln" Day.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 George Washington's Birthday. National Archives. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  2. Byas, Steve (February 19, 2018). Monday Is "Washington's Birthday Observed". The New American. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. The Great Debate: Is it ‘Presidents’ Day’—or ‘Washington’s Birthday?’. White House. February 19, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Presidents' Day - What Does it Mean?
  5. Starr, Penny (February 19, 2018). What Happened to Washington’s Birthday? Big Business, Labor Unions Lobbied Congress for ‘Presidents Day’. Breitbart News. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  6. Presidents' Day or Washington's Birthday?, by Ann Marie Imbornoni
  7. Presidents' Day or Washington's Birthday?, by Ann Marie Imbornoni
  8. http://law.jrank.org/pages/11821/Legal-Holidays.html