Feb 20, 200608:03 AMThe Life
It's NOT Presidents' Day?
Feb 20, 2006 - 08:03 AMThe first observance of this holiday was to honor George Washington's birthday in 1796, the last full year of his presidency. Washington had actually been born on February 11, 1732 (1731 under the old British calendar system, which began the new year in March rather than January), but the Gregorian adjustment was finally adopted by England (and its American colonies) in 1752, so some people stubbornly celebrated on the 11th, while most waited until the 22nd.
By the early 1800s, Washington's Birthday traditions had grown to include Birthnight Balls and a great deal of drinking in taverns.
Then we began observing Lincoln's birthday on February 12, 1866, nearly ten months after his assassination (and 57 years after his birth). Although Lincoln's birthday became a legal holiday in several states, it was never declared a federal holiday like Washington's.
In 1968, legislation moved the Washington's Birthday celebration (not Presidents' Day) to the third Monday in February. Ironically, this means that Washington's birthday will never be celebrated on his actual birth date of February 22, because a month's third Monday cannot occur any later than the 21st.