George Washington, the first President of the United States was born 22nd February 1732 and to commemorate his Birthday a federal holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of February in his honor and concurrent with Presidents’ Day. Washington’s Birthday is commonly referred to as Presidents’ Day and was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879. As the first federal holiday to honor American citizens, the holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22.However since then the date of the celebration has moved about and the purpose is not to honour any particular President, but to honour the office of the Presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day. However it was felt that, because of its proximity to Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be unduly burdensome.
An early draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act would have renamed the holiday to “Presidents’ Day” to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, which would explain why the chosen date falls between the 11th and 21st February, but this proposal failed in committee and the bill as voted on and signed into law on June 28, 1968, kept the name Washington’s Birthday. Although Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington’s Birthday observances as “Presidents’ Day”, “Washington and Lincoln Day”, or other such designations.In Massachusetts, the state officially celebrates “Washington’s Birthday” on the same day as the Federal holiday. State law also directs the governor to issue an annual “Presidents Day” proclamation on May 29 (John F. Kennedy’s birthday) honoring the presidents with Massachusetts roots: Kennedy, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge. Alabama uniquely observes the day as “Washington and Jefferson Day”, even though Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is in April. In Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, while Washington’s Birthday is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week. In Washington’s home state of Virginia, the holiday is legally known as “George Washington Day”.