Is It Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, or Presidents’ Day?

Washington’s Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, which means it can occur on any date between the 15th through the 21st, in honor of George Washington. Well known to be the first President of the United States, he was born on February 22, 1732. Colloquially, this day is widely known as Presidents’ Day and is an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington or Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is also in February). The term “Presidents’ Day” was coined in a deliberate attempt to change the holiday into one honoring multiple presidents.

The day is also a state holiday in most states with official names including Presidents’ Day, President’s Day and Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday. Depending upon the specific law, the state holiday might celebrate officially Washington alone, Washington and Lincoln, or some other combination of U.S. presidents. Some states celebrate Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson but not Lincoln.

The February holiday has since become notable for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to current corporate practices on Memorial Day or Christmas Day. With the late 1980s advertising push to rename the holiday, more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year, and, as on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day, most delivery services outside of the US Postal Service now offer regular service on the day as well.

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