Presidents' Day, Feb. 17, honors all U.S. presidents past and present

George Washington

President George Washington

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(Feb. 17, 2014) -- Monday, Feb. 17 is Presidents' Day, which many see as a day for stores to have big sales. Actually, since 1971, it is a day to honor U.S. presidents past and present.

Like The University of Texas at San Antonio, many schools and universities are open on the federal holiday. Observed on the third Monday in February, on this day financial markets, banks, courthouses, some schools, many city and county offices, and federal offices are closed. Additionally, U.S. mail is not delivered.

The holiday was established in 1885 to honor President George Washington on Feb. 22, his birthday. In 1971, the U.S. Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed the name to Presidents' Day and moved five federal holidays to Monday with the goal of creating more three-day weekends for many Americans.

The dates the Uniform Monday Holiday Act set are:

  • Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday: third Monday in January (formerly Jan. 15)
  • George Washington's Birthday: third Monday in February (formerly Feb. 22)
  • Memorial Day: last Monday in May (formerly May 30)
  • Columbus Day: second Monday in October (formerly Oct. 12)
  • Veterans Day: fourth Monday in October (formerly Nov. 11; subsequently returned to Nov. 11 in 1978)

While several states and some communities still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others, Presidents' Day is now widely accepted as the day to celebrate all presidents.