21 February 2011

Presidents Day

In 1880, a federal holiday was created to celebrate the birthday of George Washington and for years it was observed on the actual anniversary of his birth (February 22, 1732). At the same time, certain states also celebrated a second February birthday boy, Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809). After the government officially moved Washington's birthday to the third Monday of the month and the holiday became commonly known as Presidents Day, many states decided to celebrate both Washington and Lincoln's birthdays together.

For a holiday, Presidents Day is not bad. Many people get the day off and shops have enormous sales. And if any presidents are going to be celebrated, I don't have a problem with Washington and Lincoln (Someone like Franklin Pierce? We'd have to talk).

So Happy Presidents Day everyone. And if the day has inspired you to pick up a book on American history but you don't want a heavy tome, may I suggest Sarah Vowell's highly entertaining Assassination Vacation, in which the author visits the sites associated with the first three presidential assassinations. It's great. Perhaps you can read it while eating a piece of cherry pie in honor of Washington. That's what I would call multitasking.

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