Presidents Day or Washington’s Birthday?

Published Friday, February 16, 2018
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by Chris Sorensen

The third Monday in February is a holiday, at least for Federal government employees, though some people may be confused about the actual name of the holiday.

Looking at many calendars, including the electronic kind found on computers and tablets, one could be forgiven for thinking Monday's holiday is called "Presidents' Day" (with or without the apostrophe after the 's'). However, there is no Federally-recognized holiday with that name.

According to section 6103(a) of Title 5 of the United States Code, the third Monday of February is called "Washington's Birthday," though there's no requirement for states or anyone else to use the same name.

The National Weather Service - which frequently receives questions about using Washington's Birthday in its forecasts - say it follows the holiday names specified in the law, which dates to 1968 and took effect in 1971. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, as the name suggests, moved many federal holiday observations to a Monday, including Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. Floating holidays still observed on their designated day, rather than a Monday, include New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The NWS points out that the Washington's Birthday observation will never fall on the first president's actual February 22 birth date. The latest the third Monday of the month can fall is the 21st - and it could be as early as the 15th.