Monday, February 15, 2010

farmdoc's blog post number 666

The older I get, the more I marvel at how Homo sapiens makes unfathomably complex what should be quite simple. In the US, today’s a national public holiday. My calendar calls it President’s Day. Knowing zero about it, I googled ‘president’s day wiki’. The first Wikipedia page on the search result list wasn’t President’s Day, but Washington’s Birthday. That page confirms my opening premise. And how! Washington’s Birthday is the official name of a US federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. It became a federal holiday in 1885. From the 1980s it’s been commonly (and unofficially) known as Presidents Day (also spelled Presidents’ Day or President's Day). It’s the first US federal holiday to honour an American citizen. At first it was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, i.e. 22 February. In 1971 it was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Thus it’s always between February 15 and 21, and so it’s never on 22 February. In the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill, it was renamed Presidents’ Day to honour the birthdays of both Washington (22 February) and Lincoln (12 February). But the proposal failed, and so its official name’s still ‘Washington’s Birthday’. Though seemingly its main role today is to honour all US Presidents and the presidency itself, it’s also a day when car dealers have sales. What would George made of all this? Anyway, happy 278th birthday to you.

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