Every year Presidents Day is held on the third Monday in February. Traditionally linked to Washington’s birthday, this is a federal holiday and is often used to remember all the presidents of the US. Lincoln’s birthday also falls in February and in some states the day is referred to by using the name of both presidents; however, most use the more general term ‘Presidents Day’.
The focus of the day depends upon where you are in the US. Some states ignore Lincoln and instead remember both Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
How is the day celebrated? Presidents Day is traditionally a day when there are sales in stores. Car dealers in particular tend to offer a lot of bargains on this day; therefore, if you need a new vehicle, head out on Presidents Day. Until the latter part of the 1980s it was traditional for most stores to be shut on this day; however, it is now common for stores to be open and you can also expect a delivery from the US Postal Service.
Despite its status as a federal holiday, few people get to take the day off work. Schools will hold classes on this day and public transport will keep running. It is believed that this is because many companies tend to shut on Martin Luther King Jr day; however, this does depend where you are. Some schools and businesses will be closed on Presidents Day and some schools opt for a whole week off to take into account the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, which they call their ‘mid-winter recess’. This is a common practice in New York City, for example, and has been for nearly 20 years.
The day is also used to celebrate the achievements of those who have been injured while serving in the US armed forces. The Purple Heart medal features the image of Washington and for this reason the day can also be used to remember the veterans of the country.
Most community celebrations in the US have been running for years. If you are lucky enough to be near Alexandria, Virginia – Washington’s hometown – you will find yourself in the middle of a month-long celebration. This is home to the oldest Washington birthday parade. In Eustis, Florida, the townspeople started a George Fest celebration in 1902 and this has taken place every year since.
Some areas have societies formed specially to commemorate the occasion and in the US Senate the first president’s Farewell Address is read out on his birthday, which has been tradition since 1862.
No matter where you are, there will be something happening near you to commemorate this event, whether a parade, exhibition or something more extravagant. It is worth visiting some of the more established events, if you can, as this gives a great sense of occasion and can create some good memories.