This year, Presidents’ Day falls on February 21st, the third Monday of the month. Presidents’ Day, for those old enough to remember, used to be called Washington’s Birthday, as it fell on February 22nd, the first President’s birthday. Its origins date back to 1800, a year after Washington’s death in 1799. In the earliest years of this country, there were far fewer holidays, and celebrating the life of George Washington was a big deal. Other major celebrations occurred in 1832, the centennial of his birth, and in 1848, the year the Washington Monument was constructed. Although each of these events were celebrated nationally, they were not formal, federal holidays.
Sometime in the 1870s, Senator Stephen Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose making Washington’s birthday a federal holiday. In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes made it official by signing this celebration into law.
Washington’s Birthday was a federal bank holiday only in Washington, D.C., at first, along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving Day. It was also the first federal holiday dedicated to a U.S. citizen.
Washington’s Birthday, along with (eventually Lincoln’s Birthday) were celebrated as two separate entities for over ninety years when, in the late 1960s Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, initiated by Senator Robert McClory of Illinois. One of the provisions for passing this bill was to combine both Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday into one day, and having it celebrated on the third Monday of the month of February. The Uniform Monday Holiday Bill was passed in 1968 and was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971. In addition to President’s Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans’ Day all become Monday holidays.
In 1978, Veterans’ Day was pulled from that list of Monday Holidays and was placed back to its original date of celebration on November 11th. That day was originally Armistice Day, which celebrated the end of the first World War. In 1983, another Monday federal holiday was created and was the second to be dedicated to a person. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January.
Below are pictures of some delicious recipes to celebrate our first President. Click on the image that appeals to you and you will be taken to its recipe. Once you have made your decision, get in touch with your Quaker Valley Foods Sales Specialist and get the pricing and availability on the products you need.