Today is Washington’s Birthday, or Presidents’ Day. Our first president, George Washington, was born on February 22. The holiday was first celebrated in Washington, D.C. in 1880 but in 1971 the U.S. Government made this an official holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday in February. Some states use the day to honor all former presidents and often special mention is made of both Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Federal Holidays in the U.S. often come with cultural celebrations. But, children should know the meaning and story behind each holiday. Currently, our federal holidays include:
- January 1, New Years Day
- Third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- January 20 (every fourth year) Inauguration Day
- Third Monday in February, Washington’s Birthday
- Last Monday in May, Memorial Day
- July 4, Independence Day
- First Monday of September, Labor Day
- Second Monday of October, Columbus Day
- November 11, Veterans Day
- Fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving
- December 25, Christmas Day
Almost all of these holidays are significant for students who study American History. Most schools require that children in elementary school have a basic understanding of the holidays, the history behind them, and the cultural traditions surrounding them. During these holidays, take a moment to research them and talk about them with your children.
Some books to share with your children:
- Celebration: The Story of American Holidays, Lucille Penner
- All Around the Year, Holidays and Celebrations in American Life, Jack Santino
- Celebrations, the Complete Book of American Holidays, Robert J. Myers
- Coming soon: our “American History Coloring Book” will have a section devoted to these holidays. Check back here for more information!