Monday, February 18, 2008

Washington's Birthday 2008

From 2007:

Today is one of those days that really gets on my nerves.

Oh, not because it's the official celebration of George Washington's birthday. Because that's what today is.

But because of what some people call today. Some call it Presidents Day. Or Presidents' Day. Or President's Day.

But those people are dumbasses. Because it's not Presidents Day (or any variation thereof). But more about that in a minute.

First, I want to talk about George Washington and his moving birthday.

George Washington was born on February 11, 1731. No, that's not a typo. That's the date on the calendar in effect at the time.

You see, England was on the Julian Calendar at the time. And because of inaccuracies in that calendar, they were about 11 days off. Plus, New Year's Day was in March. You see, March 24, 1731 was followed by March 25, 1732. And December 31, 1732 was followed by January 1, 1732. Go figure.

So, anyway, when they got around to adopting the Gregorian Calendar in September, 1752, England ... and her colonies, including those in the Americas ... found that September 2, 1752 (Old Style) was followed by September 14, 1752 (New Style). And that New Year's Day had moved to January 1. Which meant that December 31, 1752 was followed by January 1, 1753.

For George Washington, that meant that the realignment of the calendar meant that February 11, 1731 O.S. was February 22, 1732 N.S.

And he kept that birthday for a long time. Even after he died.

Then the U.S. Government got involved.

The first thing they did was actually okay. In 1879, they made Washington's Birthday a federal holiday, to go along with New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

All the various federal holidays were celebrated on the actual day being observed. That meant on weekends sometimes, and during the middle of the week sometimes. And they said it cost extra money for a federal office to take off in the middle of the week. Plus having a Wednesday off between other weekday workdays limited families doing things.

So, in 1968, the movement to change many holidays to a nearby Monday really took off. And in 1971, Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11582, making the third Monday in February a holiday: Washington's Birthday.

In the late 1990s, that whole Presidents Day thing really took off. Lots of wrong things happened in the late 1990s, so that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Still, today is officially Washington's Birthday, and is not and has never been President's Day. Take a look at United States Code (5 U.S.C. 6103) and check out the third holiday listed. Oh, and Snopes backs me up on this, by the way.

Anyway, lots of people and lots of places (actually, people at those places) call today "Presidents Day."

I go to the bank, and see signs about Presidents Day. I turn on the TV and see a Presidents Day commercial. I hear folks on the radio talking about Presidents Day.

They're dumbasses. But they can't help it. It's too much trouble to take the time to get things right.


  1. Thanks, Basil. I'm glad somebody is taking the time to set things right! :)

    Happy Washington's Birthday!

  2. What really irks me is that since the Fed, State, Local take the day off, I havve to take the day off. I am swamoed and can't get anything done.

  3. Today is not Presidents Day...

    Apparently today is Washington’s Birthday and never has been President’s Day. I got this from Basil who also has it confirmed by Snopes and U.S. Code. Who woulda thunk it?


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