June 15, 1775
February 20th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Happy birthday Mr. President

While most people celebrate birthdays with a few balloons, some cake, and, if they’re lucky, presents, America’s leaders tend to celebrate with a bit more flair. Barack Obama, for example, rang in the big 5-0 with celebrity friends like Jay-Z and Stevie Wonder. Back in 1962, Marilyn Monroe serenaded John F. Kennedy with a seductive song that burned its way into American history. Even George H. W. Bush took a step toward making presidential birthday history when he stepped off a plane (aka skydived) in honor of his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays.

George Washington, however, surpasses them all, as he’s the only president with an entire federal holiday dedicated to his memory.

Now before you race to your web browser and send us a Wikipedia link that says the holiday is actually called “President’s Day,” we encourage you to take a closer look. Despite the promotional emails that have exploded into your inboxes this morning from car dealerships, mattress stores and electronic giants like Best Buy, today is not President’s Day. In fact, it’s not even Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (which, by the way, passed by last week on the 12th).

Brace yourself, because today’s legal name is “Washington’s Birthday.”

At least that’s what the U.S. Office of Personnel Management says, anyway.

According to the government agency’s website, the “holiday is designated as ‘Washington's Birthday” in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, 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 our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.”

So why does everyone refer to it as President’s Day? Some people point the finger at the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968. Joining the ranks of other three-day weekend holidays like “Memorial Day” and “Veterans’ Day,” “Washington’s Birthday,” was moved from the 22nd (his actual birthday) to the third Monday in February. With the date change, the presidential holiday now fell between Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays, causing many to believe the move was made to honor them both.

Others fault the advertising industry. For retailers who salivate after catchy phrases and slogans, “President’s Day Sale!” is just another weekend to encourage consumers to open their wallets and drop hundreds – if not thousands – on fancier cars or bigger TVs.

But like those expensive purchases you made online earlier today, it comes at a price. While “Martin Luther King’s Birthday” – another victim of the 1968 act – falls on a day that is not his actual birthday (January 15), the date change does not affect the integrity of the man behind the namesake. The January holiday still celebrates the civil rights movement and the legacy of the man behind it. “Washington’s Birthday,” however, has become just another day off from work spent lounging on the couch or wandering through the mall.

By reducing it to Presidents Day instead of “Washington’s Birthday” the nation no longer recognizes and honors the nation’s first president, his history and his greatest achievement: serving as the first president of the United State of America.

In an effort to rectify this, check out our photo gallery above and tell us how you’re honoring America’s first founding father.


Topics: Presidents Day • The Buzz • The Visuals

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Lefty

    Obama has said he's better than George Washington, the arrogance of that marxist!!

    February 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • really?

      Really? When did he say that? Please provide your source.

      February 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • Lefty

        My source is Obama of course.

        February 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Graham Krueger

      Still awaiting that source... One thing Obama is not blessed with is ideological confidence, sadly. (Continued the wars, kept health-care private, no carbon tax, no nationalization of the banks, more and more bailouts and tax cuts, I could go on).

      -An actual Socialist who is very disappointed in the fake one I helped elect.

      February 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
      • sara

        Wipe your nose

        February 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • sara

      When did he say that?

      February 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
      • Tilak

        e7ae€e7bd‘e58f‘e5b8ƒe2€œe6Œ‡e9˜…e2€9defbcŒe6‰“e9€a0e4b8ade5›bde7‰ˆZite | e6Œ‡e9˜…e5ae˜e6–b9BLOG Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weoblg and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

        June 27, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  2. matt

    Twenty Four states officially celebrate "Presidents' Day" today, even though the federal holiday is called "Washington's Birthday". Only nine states call it by its federal title.

    February 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  3. dontbow

    Yes happy birthday next president, this one has no clue.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • sara

      Which one will that be. lol I thought it was the birthday of President Obama, that's why I'm on the site. 4 More years.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
      • Joey

        I think you're a bit early sara, isn't his birthday near the summer?

        February 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  4. judy

    he has no source. repo lies as usual. they throw crap and hope some will stick. New E mail going around on first lady. It was from several years ago but has resurfaced about her spending. I have been sending corrected statements to all the morons who believe this crap. Obama Biden 2012 Just keep calling them out or giving the correct info. I does shut them up

    February 21, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Angel

      while death suddenly loves as I... death like me does not like to wait...not too much of a shock atahcllyue won as expectedgood for himgood for Americatoo bad for usء"enjoy d weather:)"لا تتطنزين... الجو عندنا حلو :)(ناطرك تسافرين :) )

      June 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. John

    My Family and I spent the weekend in Washington DC at a couple of museums and visiting memorials. Where did we go on Washington's Birthday? Why Mount Vernon of course.

    February 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  6. Ugochukwu

    I wsih u happy birthday

    February 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  7. William

    The third time is a charm! I have aettmpted to go to try your restaurant for dinner on 3 separate occasions. The first was a Monday night and a few months later a Tuesday night only to be disappointed to find I had again chosen a night that you were closed. Being Friday night I finally succeeded and am still in a state of bliss hours after eating at Berry Fresh Cafe. I can never recall trying not to moan or Ahhh after every bite of food ever in my life! Every taste, beginning with the Fire Cracker Crispy Shrimp shared as an appetizer to the Mediterranean Chicken and Pasta and finally to the warm apple cobbler with homemade mango and coconut ice cream,was as if I had discovered Shangra La and Eutopia wrapped in one. I am still trying not to melt from all of those phenomenal flavors.I am already studying the take out menu planning my next gourmet meal perhaps breakfast next time at my now all time favorite restaurant.Thank you! Until we meet again,Carol A. Ryan

    March 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm |