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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Do you have Monday, February 15th, off? Tempe Yarn will be open this Monday just like all Mondays. Come join us for some fun and relax on your holiday.

History of the Holiday (from

According to the
Gregorian or "New Style" calendar that is in use today, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, but according to the Julian or "Old Style" calendar that was in effect in England and her colonies until 1752, his birth date was February 11th. (This is because the new calendar added eleven days to the old date to bring the calendar year into step with the astronomical year.) So back in the 1790s, while Washington was still alive, some Americans celebrated his birthday on February 11th and some on February 22nd.

Along came Abraham Lincoln, another famous US president, who was also deserving of a special day of recognition. The only problem was that he was born on February 12th, and so now we found ourselves with two presidential birthdays that fell within a short time of one another. Prior to 1968, this fact didn't seem to bother anyone and things were running along pretty smoothly in the birthday celebration department -- February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday (in most states) to honor the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Then things changed. In 1968, the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, so they voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington's Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971. As a result, Washington's Birthday holiday was changed from its fixed February 22 date to the third Monday in February. This change was not without controversy. There was some concern that Washington's identity would be lost (since the third Monday in February would never fall on his birth date of February 22nd). There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday "Presidents' Day", but this stalled in committee. "It was the collective judgment of the Committee on the Judiciary," stated Mr. William Moore McCulloch (R-Ohio) "that this [naming the day "President's Day"] would be unwise. Certainly, not all Presidents are held in the same high esteem as the Father of our Country. There are many who are not inclined to pay their respects to certain Presidents. Moreover, it is probable that the members of one political party would not relish honoring a President from the other political party whether he was in office, no matter how outstanding history may find his leadership."

The single holiday observance meant that the traditional 10-day separation between Washington's Birthday (February 22) and Lincoln's Birthday (February 12) had essentially been eliminated. However, while Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Even though most states with individual holidays honoring Washington and Lincoln shifted their state recognition date of Washington's Birthday to correspond to the third Monday in February, some states, including California, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas and others, chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday "President's Day."

From that point forward, the growing use of the term Presidents' Day was largely a marketing phenomenon, as advertisers sought a catchall phrase to capitalize on the opportunity for three-day or weeklong sales. Gradually, the phrase "Presidents' Day" took hold and today has become part of the everyday vernacular.

1 comment:

  1. I want to thank you for the excellent service I received when I decided to 'stop in' on Presidents' Day. I'm the one with the 2 kids who ate all your crackers and fact, we bought our own goat cheese w/cranberries for home because my son liked it so much there!

    I appreciate that you had some blocks and other things for the kids to play with while I browsed and purchased items. Having that really made the difference between me coming in and browsing for only 5 minutes, and coming in to actually be able to view what you had in the store.

    Thanks again, and I'll be sure to visit your store when next I head to Tempe!

    Kelly Hamilton
    Surprise, AZ