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Why do we celebrate Presidents Day?

Posted at 7:03 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 20:03:46-05

KILLEEN, TX — Presidents Day gives us a chance to get a great deal on a mattress or take our kids to the park but, what is Presidents Day really about?

President’s Day is a federal holiday officially named Washington's Birthday and is a celebration of our nation’s first president.

”Unofficially, George Washington’s birthday had been celebrated since the 1790s but, it was codified by an act of Congress in 1879 and it became George Washington’s birthday,” said Dr. Timothy Hemmis, assistant professor of American History at Texas A&M Central Texas.

The original holiday was celebrated on Feb. 22 George Washington's birthday or, at least what became his birthday after the British government changed calendars.

”Washington was actually born on February 11, 1732. However, the British Empire, because he was born in the colonies, the British Empire switched calendars and ended up shifting 11 days,” said Dr. Hemmis.

The holiday switched from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February in 1971 - effectively giving an extended weekend to celebrate what is now commonly called President's Day and some families are going all in.

”We’re a really patriotic family. We have an American flag in our front yard and everything like that. So, we try to also remember what the holiday is about, not just a day off from school because history is important to us,” said Sarah Sproles, Killeen Mother.

Washington was also a historically revered military general, giving the military families of Central Texas a deeper appreciation for the holiday.

”It’s nice that, as the military, they get the day off but, it’s also an appreciation for them and the families and ... how we’ve gotten here today,” said Megan Johnson, Killeen mother, and military spouse.

Though the federal holiday is George Washington’s Birthday, he is not the only president tied to it.

”Lincoln is often attributed to this idea of Presidents Day but, it just happens to be near his birthday and so they just attribute it to it.” said Dr. Hemmis

President's Day is more than just a day off from school or work, it’s a chance to reflect and celebrate our country’s history.