Now that Valentine’s Day is over and the candy is on sale, we can focus on the next holiday. No, not the one with the leprechauns and four leaf clovers. We are talking about President’s Day — the holiday that most people recognize as the weekend to get great deals on cars, mattresses and furniture. However, what would President’s Day be without a little history?
The original President’s Day was established in 1885 to celebrate George Washington. The holiday was an attempt to add more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers and was created under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Originally set to be every February 22 (aka Georgia Washington’s birthday), Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose the day become a national holiday. Then by 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes jumped on board and signed the proposal into law.
Interestingly enough, the holiday started off only being recognized by the District of Columbia until 1885 when the rest of the country accepted the idea. A few decades went by until a shift began to take place. In the late 1960s congress sought to modify several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays. Thus the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was revisited and President’s Day was now set to be every third Monday of February.
Many believe (especially our boss John) that day was chosen because it fell between Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, and wasn’t officially deemed President’s Day until early 1970s. Senator Robert McClory of Illinois was the first to propose the day be renamed and in 1971, President Richard M. Nixon passed the executive order for the holiday. Stores took advantage of the three-day weekend and started offering discounted prices naming the deals “President’s Day sales.”
So while you are out and about shopping for a new couch or new car, try to recall the true meaning of the holiday. To celebrate our wonderful country and remember some of the great leaders of the past that got us to where we are today.