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What is Presidents Day? The federal holiday, explained

By Michelle Lou and Brandon Griggs

Published February 15, 2019

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Beyond the day's tradition as a retail sales holiday, here's a look at the history of Presidents Day.

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It's officially named “Washington’s Birthday," in honor of America's first president.

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George Washington's birthday is February 22, but the holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of February.

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Since 1896, the US Senate has read George Washington’s Farewell Address on Presidents Day each year.

The holiday has evolved beyond only celebrating Washington, most notably to include Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865.

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In 1968, a congressman attempted to change the official name to “Presidents Day.”

However, legislators from George Washington’s home state of Virginia opposed the idea and the proposal failed.

Besides Washington and Lincoln, William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan are the other presidents who were born in February.

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Today the holiday might go by a different name depending on what state you live in.

Virginia calls it George Washington’s Day.

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Alabama dubbed it Washington and Jefferson Day.

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Montana refers to it as Lincoln's and Washington's Birthdays.

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Regardless of what you call it, the holiday honors all 45 presidents of the United States. You choose which ones you'd like to celebrate and how.

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