All About Presidents Day

Filed under: Holidays

Are we celebrating Lincoln's Birthday on Presidents Day? Maybe. Credit: Believe Collective, Flickr

Are we celebrating Lincoln's Birthday on Presidents Day? Maybe. Credit: Believe Collective, Flickr

Presidents Day may seem like it should be a simple holiday to understand. But that's not the case.

For example, if you remember getting two days off from school when you were young -- one for Lincoln's birthday and one for Washington's -- you are correct. That used to be the case. But not anymore. At least not in most states.

And you know that day in February when the kids don't have school? The one most people call Presidents Day? Well, it should be called Washington's Birthday, because that is what the holiday is supposed to celebrate. However, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act became law in 1968, and took effect on Jan. 1, 1971, according to Wikipedia.

"The Act moved Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day from fixed dates to designated Mondays."

According to Snopes.com, Lincoln's birthday was never an official federal holiday, although it was celebrated by many states. Currently, most states recognize Presidents Day (or the more grammatically correct Presidents' Day -- note the location of the apostrophe) on the third Monday in February, and consider it a celebration of both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. But technically, it's only Washington's birthday.
It's fairly confusing; if you want to read more, check out texcellent articles on Snopes, Wikipedia, PennLive and Education-World.com.

If you want to do something fun and educational with your children on that day off, you should probably avoid a full telling of the history of the day; that's just asking for trouble. Instead, teach your children about Washington, our first president, and Lincoln, who, among other things, freed the slaves. FamilyEducation.com has a collection of fun and free printable games and activities, such as a Presidents' Day Puzzle and the Abraham Lincoln Coloring Page.

If you like to bake, it's hard to go wrong with a cherry pie, in honor of George Washington and his cherry tree. Try this recipe that lets you choose between fresh or canned fruit. Or, take advantage of the three day weekend and take a trip to Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot, or check out Gettysburg, Penn., site of the Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. Or take a trip to Washington, D.C., which has numerous places to visit that relate to Lincoln, Washington and the United States in general.

Related: All the presidents' children -- a photo gallery

Read more ParentDish coverage of Holidays.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.