When is Presidents' Day 2017?

George Washington

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When is Presidents’ Day 2017? When is George Washington’s birthday? There’s some confusion about these holidays. Here’s a short summary of Presidents’ Day history and why we celebrate. Let us know what you think!

Many calendars list the third Monday of February as Presidents’ Day. Many U.S. states list the holiday as Presidents’ Day. Of course, all of the 3-day retail store sales are called “Presidents’ Day” sales and this vernacular has also been influential in how we reference the holiday.

Contrary to belief, the observed federal holiday is actually called “Washington’s Birthday.” Neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington’s Birthday be changed to Presidents’ Day. But also Congress has never declared a national holiday binding in all states and each state decides its own legal holidays. This is why there are some calendar discrepancies.

washington-portrait-l_0.jpg
Image: George Washington, copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1931 - 1932, RG 148, Records of Commissions of the Legislative Branch, George Washington Bicentennial Commission.

Historically, Americans began celebrating George Washington’s Birthday just months after his death, long before Congress declared it a federal holiday. It was not until 1879, under President Rutherford B. Hayes, that Washington’s Birthday became a legal holiday, to be observed on his birthday, February 22.  

Washington’s birthday was celebrated on February 22 until well into the 20th Century. In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”

Today, George Washington’s Birthday is one of only eleven permanent holidays established by Congress. One of the great traditions followed for decades has been the reading of George Washington’s Farewell Address—which remains an annual event for the Senate to this day.

In a sense, Washington’s birthday helps us reflect on not just the first president but also the founding of our nation, the values, and what Washington calls in his Farewell Address, the “beloved Constitution and union, as received from the Founders.” 

George Washington’s Birthday

Although the federal holiday is held on a Monday (the third Monday of February), George Washington’s birthday is observed on February 22, the third Monday of February. To complicate matters, Washington was actually born on February 11 in 1731! How can that be?

During Washington’s lifetime, people in Great Britain and America switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar (something most of Europe had done in 1582). As a result of this calendar reform, people born before 1752 were told to add 11 days to their birth dates. Those born between January 1 and March 25, as Washington was, also had to add one year to be in sync with the new calendar. By the time Washington became president in 1789, he celebrated his birthday on February 22 and listed his year of birth as 1732.

Presidents’ Day Dates 2017

Year Presidents’ Day
2017 Monday, February 20
2018 Monday, February 19
2019 Monday, February 18

Myths About Washington

If you think that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then admitted his wrongdoing by saying to his father, “I cannot tell a lie,” think again. He didn’t say it; he didn’t even chop down the tree! Parson Mason Weems (1759–1825), one of Washington’s biographers, made up the story hoping to demonstrate Washington’s honesty.

This tale is not the only myth about Washington. His wooden dentures? They weren’t made of wood. Instead, they were made of hippopotamus teeth that had been filed down to fit Washington’s mouth.

Cherry Recipes

We say: Celebrate the presidents’ birthdays with a cherry recipe! Here are our favorite cherry recipes for celebrating Washington’s birthday. They are easy to make and beautiful on the plate.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies  See how to make these delicious cookies, plus a printable recipe.

Cherry Cream Pie
Cherry-Pistachio Cookies
Cherry Brownies
Mock Cherry Pie (with cranberries)
Cherry Mocha Mousse Pie
Cherry Thumbprints (with almonds)
French Cherry Dessert
Black Forest Cherry Torte

George Washington Quote

Upon entering office, Washington was not convinced that he was the right man for the job. He wrote, “My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.” Fortunately for the young country, he was wrong. You can read more about Washington at the official White House Web site.

Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.
–George Washington (1732–99)

Reader Comments

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This is the PC version

The actual reason the date was set in 1968 was because of Martin Luther King's birthday being celebrated in January. Prior to that, both Feb 12 and Feb 22 were holidays. Feb 12 for Lincoln and Feb 22 for Washington. In order to do away with one of the days, they combined the two and came up with President's day. It was all done because of the addition of MLK day in January.

Wrong timing

MLK Day was not declared a Federal Holiday until 1983 and was first observed in 1986. All of the 50 states did not all observe the Holiday until the year 2000.

It was not even brought up in Congress until 1979, almost 11 years after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was enacted.

February 22, 2013

February 22, 2013 Washington's Birthday

George Washington was reincarnated as Robert E. Lee in what might be the world's most obvious example of a 'direct reincarnation'! Alexandria, Virginia was also home to young Robert E. Lee whose father - 'Light-Horse' Harry Lee - was perhaps the general's best-friend. It was he who delivered the famous eulogy of Washington, "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen".

Robert E. Lee married Mary Custis who was the great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington. Lee's father-in-law was George Washington Custis who was the step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington. At the time of Lee's wedding, Arlington House was a memorial to Washington and had more of his memorabilia than Mount Vernon!

There is a very long list of 'coincidences' re: Washington & Lee. If one is open-mined to Gen. Washington being reincarnated as Gen. Lee, then the question begs, "Who was Lee reincarnated as?" The BIGGEST clue is military genius. Add that he also imitated Washington and became president: Dwight D. Eisenhower. Is it a 'coincidence' that Ike bought a farm near Lee's Headquarters at Gettysburg? 'There Are No Coincidences - there is synchronism and alignment' (the title of my 74-page booklet that satisfies the prophecy of the "book/scroll" in The Revelation 5:1-10:10).

Dude... that's some good

Dude... that's some good stuff you're smoking.

Actually don't you know that

Actually don't you know that Robert E. Lee reincarnated as Lady GaGa?? Both believe in intersectional friendships. And both have horse named Traveller. Coincidence???

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