Our company holiday calendar and we bet yours says the third Monday in February is President’s Day. That is wrong! It is a federal holiday but the correct name is Washington’s Birthday. It was never renamed to President’s Day even though custom and veneration of Abraham Lincoln who was also born in February has evolved the name in common use to President’s Day.
The holiday began in 1800, one year after the death of George Washington. People across the United States wanted to honor the life and service of our first President, and began by honoring him on his birthday, February 22. In 1879 President Rutherford B. Hayes signed into law that George Washington’s birthday be recognized as an official federal holiday.
This federal holiday was celebrated on his actual birth date for almost 100 years. In 1971 the U.S. Congress introduced the Universal Monday Holiday Act changing the date of many American holidays to a Monday creating a three day weekend for workers. Even then the name of the holiday on the third Monday in February stayed Washington’s Birthday.