If you're wondering why you randomly have a Monday in February off of a holiday known as President's Day, don't worry: You're not alone. Thanks to a little-known bill from 1968 known as the Uniform Monday Holiday bill, we celebrate President's Day in February on the third Monday of the month, every year, in honor of the very first president of the United States — thanks George!
And despite the fact that the federal holiday originally known as George Washington's Birthday rarely falls on the former president's date of his birth (that would be Feb. 22 — and ICYMI, in 2017, President's Day is on Feb. 20), the holiday was originally founded in his honor in the 1880s, nearly 80 years after his death. You know, to encourage the American people to spend a little time reflecting on the life and work of the face of our dollar bill.
So, onto the bill that guarantees it's on a Monday every year: Congress passed the Uniform Monday Bill that ensured that Washington's birthday would not only be celebrated on the third Monday of the month of February, but that the holiday would also be recognized officially as President's Day to include an honor for another famous U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday falls on Feb. 12. Why leave the other Feb. baby out of the celebratory loop?
In modern time, President's Day is widely viewed as a national celebration of all of the great presidents of the United States' history. In school, President's Day is also an opportunity for teachers to spend some time brushing their students up on Presidential trivia. Personally, I remember in elementary school having a President's Day parade where each class would dress up as a different president and do a presentation in front of all the other classes. In other words, it's an opportunity for everyone to wear fun white wigs and odd-shaped hats.
I digress. The real reason why President's Day falls on a Monday is because Congress believed that by making more federal holidays fall on a day of the week attached to a weekend, people would be less likely to miss out on work days. Basically, the government knows we can't make it through the winter without some off days, so they threw us a bone with this presidential birthday celebration. We also have Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day all on Mondays. And, if you've ever been to a department store on a federal holiday, you know that retailers take full advantage of the holiday to throw sales and specials.
So, there you have it: The history of this seemingly random holiday in the middle of February. Now, make sure you spend President's Day doing whatever you want.