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HISTORY

Why George Washington had two birthdays and how it is related to Presidents’ Day

He wasn’t only the first president of the United States but also the one who had two birthdays besides his commemoration on the later established, President’s Day

Presidents’ Day has become a holiday to celebrate all U.S. presidents up to this day. Since 1885, a date has been set to recognize all the presidential line starting from their first president, George Washington, and besides it being a way to give more three-day weekends to the nation’s workers, it has become a good remembrance day towards the country’s democratic leaders.

Although Washington’s birthdays could be considered as one of the reasons behind this holiday, the truth is that the dates don’t necessarily coincide with each other; and considering the fact that the former president was known to have two birthdays depending on two different calendars, it ends up being quite interesting to know which of the two dates this holiday is referring to and why none of them coincide with it.

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About George Washington’s birthdays

The first president of the United States was born on February 11th, 1732. During this period the country was still a British Colony and years were counted according to the Julian Calendar, a time measurement system named after the emperor Julius Caesar which considered a year to be made of 365.25 days, something that caused a time imbalance every 128 years and wasn’t as precise as the Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses nowadays.

As time passed and the need for a more accurate calendar rose, the British government decided to finally implement this second calendar as the official one on all its domains in 1752 (taking into consideration that the yearly mark was already off by 11 days). This was then the year in which Washington would turn 20 years old and thanks to this decision, his second birthday began to exist each February 22nd.

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The national celebration of his birthday

Because of the very important role of George Washington for the U.S, people started considering his birthday as a national celebration ever since he was still alive. Then, in 1879 the date was declared to be a federal festivity, and in 1968 it became part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act where several federal holidays like this one shifted to be celebrated on specific Mondays of the year. From this, Washington’s Birthday, along with Abraham Lincoln´s, went on to be recognized as Presidents´ Day celebrated on the third Monday of February.

The evolution of Presidents´ Day

Nowadays, this holiday is not just to celebrate the first president´s birthday but also to recognize the lives and importance of all the presidents that America has ever had. It is a day for patriotic celebration (almost the same as Independence Day) in which, besides any other character that each state decides to commemorate, Washington’s birthday on February 22nd and Lincoln’s on the 12th is still the most recognized ones.

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