In 1879, the United States made Washington's February 22nd Birthday a federal holiday.
Until 1968, Washington’s Birthday had always been celebrated on February 22. It was tradition and a powerful reminder of the man who helped create what we have today in the United States.
On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act”. This law was to provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays. The act was also created to provide federal employees with more three-day weekends. Under this new law, Washington’s birthday would be celebrated on the third Monday of February, partially losing the value and identity of the importance of his birthday. Washington’s birthday has not been celebrated on the actual day of his birth since the law took effect in 1971.
Today the nation typically combines Washington’s Birthday with Presidents’ Day, celebrating both days on the third Monday in February. However, Presidents’ Day is not the official name of the holiday.
While the name “Presidents’ Day” was proposed for this Monday holiday in 1951, the U.S. government never officially changed the name. In the 1980s, thanks to advertising campaigns for holiday sales, the term became popularized and largely accepted.