Presidents Day, a federal holiday that honors presidents of the United States, will be observed Monday, Feb. 19, this year.
The holiday traces its roots to celebrations commemorating George Washington during the early 19th century. After Washington’s death in 1799, his birthday was celebrated informally across the young nation.
In 1879, Congress declared Feb. 22 — Washington’s birthday — a federal holiday.
A 1968 law moved the Washington’s Birthday holiday to the third Monday of each February. With the holiday no longer attached to the former president’s date of birth, the day came to symbolize the recognition of a growing list of presidents.
Today, the date is widely accepted as an occasion to celebrate all U.S. commanders in chief, past and present.
The National Archives and Records Administration site has more information about the holiday’s origins.