A History of President’s Day

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Get excited for some extra sleep or study time on February 15th because there will be no classes in observance of President’s Day.  America celebrates lots of holidays this time of year, but not all students might know why we celebrate the third Monday of February every year.  

Presidents Day originated as a celebration of America’s first president, George Washington’s, birthday. Being held on the 22nd of February. This holiday was originally called “George Washington’s Birthday”.  It was officially designated as a holiday in 1885, but now, America no longer celebrates President’s day on the 22nd, and that is for two reasons. 

In 1971, The American Congress passed a bill that would move multiple federal holidays to Mondays, to give the working people long weekends, rather than a day off in the middle of the week.  This bill was called the Uniform Monday Act. This Act, however, led to some controversy.

When asked his thoughts on the matter, professor VanOrman said, “I think long weekends are nice for family time, but I would like holidays to be on the day to remember and respect our forefathers.” When asked, Alison Miner, a fellow Badger, said “I think it’s disrespectful to change the date away from his birthday. I think it undermines the meaning and significance of what those past presidents sacrificed for us.” 

Another event that affected this holiday was in 1971, when some members of Congress attempted to change the name to President’s Day to also celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is also in February.  This request was denied, but due to retail stores using “President’s Day Sales” the name was popularized and later officially changed.  

Emily Parnell is a Sophomore communications major at Snow College. She has a great passion for writing and reading. She joined The Snowdrift newspaper to help her pursue a career in public relations.

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