There Is No Such Thing as Presidents Day

Today is actually called 'Washington's Birthday': Peter Grier
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2014 1:04 PM CST
There Is No Such Thing as Presidents Day

Enjoying having Presidents Day off? No, you're not, because today is not Presidents Day, writes Peter Grier in the Christian Science Monitor. In fact, "there is no such thing as Presidents Day," he writes. The official name for the federal holiday you may currently be celebrating is Washington's Birthday. It's been that way since 1886, but in the late 1960s, when Congress was "scrambl[ing] around a bunch of federal holidays to make three-day weekends," Illinois pushed to change the name to Presidents Day to honor Abraham Lincoln. But Virginia blocked the move to protect its native son, and it remained Washington's Birthday—as far as the federal government is concerned.

But state and local governments can call the day whatever they want, and some refer to it as Presidents Day; so do many retailers when promoting their big holiday weekend sales. Thus, the myth of Presidents Day persists. Whatever you call the holiday, it's only mandated for government employees—and as such, it's "another reminder how messed up US holiday policies are," writes Heather Long in the Guardian. "America is (the) only developed nation that has no legal requirement for any paid days off," and as a result, a full quarter of US workers don't get any. The next worst offender, Japan, mandates at least 10 paid days off a year, and it goes up from there. "It's another example of the dividing line between the haves and have nots in America." Click for her full column, or Grier's. (Read more Presidents Day stories.)

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