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Not Presidents’ Day at all

It’s the third Monday in February in the United States — and you know what that means.

CNN has a headline today: “Here’s what’s open and closed on Presidents Day 2023.”1

Fox News has a “Presidents Day quiz! How well do you know the popular holiday?2

Even says “Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February.”3

federal holidays

The Legal Genealogist begs to differ.

There’s no such beastie as a federal holiday called Presidents (or Presidents’) Day.

There never was.

The law when the holiday was first created in 1879 called it Washington’s Birthday, to be celebrated only within the District of Columbia.4

When it was moved in 1968 from the actual day of Washington’s birth to the third Monday in February, the law called it Washington’s Birthday.5

And that has never changed — the law today calls it Washington’s Birthday.6

So enjoy your Presidents Day sales and the Presidents Day hype.

But say happy birthday to Mr. Washington, whose birth is what’s celebrated by this federal holiday.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “No, actually, it’s not…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 20 Feb 2023).


  1. Ramishah Maruf, “Here’s what’s open and closed on Presidents Day 2023,” ( : accessed 20 Feb 2023).
  2. Presidents Day quiz! How well do you know the popular holiday?,” ( : accessed 20 Feb 2023).
  3. Presidents’ Day 2023, ( : accessed 20 Feb 2023).
  4. See marginal note, “An act to amend section nine hundred and ninety-three of the Revised Statutes of the United States for the District of Columbia, so as to make the twenty second day of February a holiday within said District,” 20 Stat. 277 (31 Jan 1879).
  5. Uniform Monday Holiday Act, 82 Stat. 250 (28 June 1968).
  6. “Holidays,” 5 U.S.C. § 6103.
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