U.S. Presidents' Day — also known as Washington's Birthday — is celebrated every year on the third Monday in February. It falls on February 20 in 2017. You can expect banks and schools to be closed because it's a federal holiday. The U.S. Postal Service offices are closed as well, and there is no mail delivery. State and local offices are also typically closed, along with non-essential federal offices.
Although it has become known as a great weekend for sales — especially for cars — there's a lot more to Presidents Day than spending and saving money. The holiday provides a great opportunity to learn more about American history, civic responsibility, and even U.S. geography.
The Timing of the Holiday
Presidents' Day was originally designated in honor of George Washington's birthday, and it's still legally called "Washington's Birthday." The first president of the U.S. was born on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County in Virginia. So why isn't Presidents' Day always celebrated on February 22 instead of the third Monday of the month? Actually, it was until 1971. Then the 90th Congress decided to change things up to create a uniform set of Monday holidays — maybe not so coincidentally giving a lot of Americans a series of three-day weekends to enjoy throughout the year. Initially, four holidays were affected: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.
Then some veterans' organizations objected to the change so their holiday was restored to its original November 11 date in 1980.
George Washington served as the country's first president from 1789 to 1797. He was married to Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. They had no children together, but they raised Martha's two children from a previous marriage.
Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799, at the age of 67. Celebrate his birthday online by taking a virtual tour of Mount Vernon and learning more about his historic plantation house in Virginia.
Washington now shares his day with numerous other presidents, and you can learn about each of them online in honor of the day. The White House website shares a list of all presidents complete with links to their individual biographies. EnchantedLearning has a great website for kids, complete with a full list of presidents, when they served, the party they represented, and their vice presidents. The site also offers games, arts and crafts projects, and a link to help children write a letter to the President. It explains how the President is elected.
Even if you're not lucky enough to spend Presidents' Day weekend in Washington, D.C., you'll find plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday online wherever you are. Numerous websites offer crafts, virtual tours, games and lots of information. It's a great opportunity to learn more about U.S. history and government.