History of Presidents’ Day
This Monday, February 17th is a day to honor the past presidents of the United States, specifically George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both presidents celebrate their birthdays in February: Abraham Lincoln on February 12th and George Washington on February 22nd. George Washington was born 282 years ago in 1732. His birthday became a federal holiday in 1870, but was actually celebrated much earlier during his time as a general during the Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was officially celebrated starting in 1865, but it did not become a federal holiday. For decades, both presidents had separate days to honor their birthdays. In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal public holiday, called Presidents Day to be observed on the third Monday in February to honor all presidents. Banks, federal, city and state offices, post offices and most schools are closed in observance of the holiday.
Presidents’ Day in the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia Area
Mount Vernon has a 3-day birthday celebration honoring George Washington. The admission to Mount Vernon is free on Monday, February 17th. Special events include storytelling from re-enactors of George Washington’s family and friends, wreath laying and other family events. The city of Alexandria, Virginia is the host for many of the Presidents’ Day events. Alexandria played an important role throughout the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War periods. Alexandria’s Annual George Washington Classic 10K is scheduled for Sunday February 16th starting at 8am. The race benefits the Alexandria Police Youth Corp. Step back in time to celebrate President Washington’s birthday at the Birthright Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. The 18th century tavern once played host to George Washington, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson amongst other notable figures. The Birthright Ball is an evening of toasts, re-enactors, historical programs, dancing, and an 18th century banquet. Monday, February 17th, Alexandria hosts the country’s largest Presidents’ Day parade in Old Town Alexandria. The parade, dating back to 1923, has bands, floats, wagons, horses, historical reenactments and special performances. The parade kicks off at 1pm. Presidents’ Day is a great day to visit the monuments on the National Mall. There are monuments and memorials to Presidents Lincoln, Washington (even though it is not open due to earthquake repairs), Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also, make a stop at Madame Tussauds’ Museum at 1001 F Street NW to see wax figures of all 44 presidents in an interactive 3-D tribute. If you have the day off, head out and enjoy history and honor our presidents by enjoying one of the many Presidents’ Day events in the Washington D.C. area.