Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Presidents' Day?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Got the day off? Good for you. Any idea why?

Retailers open their doors Monday and roll out big sales to entice customers. Government employees -- along with kids -- have the day off. But do you know why?

If you answered "Presidents Day," you're technically wrong.

The actual federal holiday is called "Washington's Birthday," after the nation's first president, George Washington.

According to the Gregorian calendar, adopted by England and its colonies after Washington was born, his birth date was February 22, 1732. (The Julian calendar has him born on February 11.) He is viewed as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history and was also much adored during his lifetime.

"In the earlier years, when it was celebrated, it was more than celebrating his birth, it was celebrating what we liked about Washington: He walked away from power, a very poignant lesson for people," said presidential historian Doug Wead.

It wasn't until 1885, though, that February 22 became designated a federal holiday to honor Washington.

Read more about the history of Presdents' Day Washington's Birthday from CNN.com.

click to enlarge Reenactors salute every American president with cannon fire at Colonial Williamsburg on Feb. 14, 2010. Photo by Rhiannon Bowman.
  • Reenactors salute every American president with cannon fire at Colonial Williamsburg on Feb. 14, 2010. Photo by Rhiannon Bowman.

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