Today, as you may have noticed, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day on which we honor and celebrate the great champion for racial equality and justice. King gave voice and vision to generations of activists and was particularly influential during the Civil Rights Movement, and words still inspire people today. Of course, you may be wondering: Why do we celebrate MLK Day on a Monday? It turns out that there is an answer, although it might not be what you're expecting.
Most guesses peg the observance of the national holiday as being in honor of King's birthday, which is Jan. 15, 1929. But Jan. 15 obviously doesn't fall on a Monday every year — so why does the holiday always occur on a Monday? Specifically, MLK Day is observed on the third Monday in January every year, rather than being stagnant on King's birthday... and it's pretty much because we, as Americans, fundamentally love our long weekends.
No, really: There's a whole bill based around guaranteeing us federal holidays that place on a Monday, so we can have more time to travel and spend with our families. It's called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and it was signed into effect in 1968 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. The bill determined that federal holidays, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and President's Day, would be recognized and observed on Mondays, so federal employees could have guaranteed long weekends to better enjoy time with family and friends. Many of us probably use the long weekends these days to watch Netflix and go out to brunch instead, but the original intent is certainly a heart warming one.
So, what are people doing now to recognize MLK Day? A lot of people choose to honor King through participation in community service, which is particularly meaningful given that King devoted tremendous time and energy to his community. There are also a number of parades and community events to celebrate King's mission and huge strives in racial equality and income equality.