Washington's Birthday

Here are fascinating facts to know about the holiday known as Washington's Birthday.

  • While most people know that the holiday commemorates the birthday of George Washington, not many know that it is actually observed on the third Monday in February, and is officially called "Washington's Birthday" rather than "Presidents' Day."
  • The first official observance of Washington's Birthday was on February 22, 1800, which was the year after Washington's death.
  • The holiday was not always celebrated on the same date each year. It was originally observed on February 22, but in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which moved the holiday to the third Monday in February to create more three-day weekends for workers.
  • The tradition of celebrating Washington's Birthday with cherry pie and cherry trees stems from a story about a young George Washington who chopped down a cherry tree and then refused to lie about it when asked by his father.
  • In the late 19th century, the holiday was celebrated with patriotic parades and speeches, and it was also a day when many businesses closed and employees took the day off.
  • George Washington was not only the first president of the United States, but he was also a skilled surveyor, farmer, and businessman.
  • The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. was built in honor of George Washington, and it stands at 555 feet tall, making it one of the tallest monuments in the world.
  • The holiday is not a federal holiday, which means that businesses and schools are not required to close. However, some states, such as Virginia, still celebrate it as a state holiday.
A glimpse of Washington's Birthday celebration on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, an etching by Childe Hassam in 1916.
A Decorated Los Angeles Streetcar Celebrating Washington's Birthday, circa 1892
Washington's Birthday sign, c. 1890–1899
Centennial Celebration of Washington's Birthday: Procession of Events in Philadelphia, February 1832

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