Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents' Day

It turns out that it's not really Presidents' Day after.  It's Washington's birthday.

People had been celebrating Washington's birthday for nearly a century when Congress made it an official, legal holiday.  Then in the late 1960's, Congress was discussing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill.  (That's the law that bopped nearly all the holidays to Monday, so now there are few people who actually know when Columbus landed in the Americas or when Washington's birthday is or when MLK's birthday is or when Memorial Day was.) 

Along with the UMHBill, Congress debated whether to change Washington's Birthday to a celebration of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays.  I remember the fuss in Illinois from government workers who would be cut from two paid holidays to one, should this legislation pass.  That part of the bill failed.

But "Washington's Birthday" was no longer celebrated on Washington's birthday.  Somehow, as the years passed, Washington's birthday began to be known as Presidents' Day.  Part of it was because of teachers wanting to touch on more history than just the one president.  Part of it was advertisers.  There were probably other influences too.  Whatever the causes, the creation of "Presidents' Day" was something that grew out of society instead from a declaration of the government. 

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