Presidents Day, which this year falls on Monday, February 21, 2022, is a federal holiday for most federal workers.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, the federal holiday is recorded as Washington’s Birthday, in remembrance of the first president of the United States. George Washington, a Virginia delegate for the Second Continental Congress, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in May 1775, leading troops during the American Revolution. He was elected president and served two terms before retiring in 1797. After Washington’s death in 1799, his birthday — February 22 — became a day of remembrance. It was not made a federal holiday until 1879.
Many Americans refer to the holiday as the plural Presidents Day because it transformed into a day to celebrate the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who was born Feb. 12, 1809.
Lincoln was the nation’s 16th president, serving from 1681 until his assassination in 1865. He is known for leading the country during the Civil War. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the Confederate states. John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.
While both presidents are revered, the holiday remains Washington’s Birthday according to federal law. Under the Uniform Holidays Act of 1968, Congress shifted several holidays to fall on Mondays, moving the commemoration of Washington’s Birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday of February every year.
On federal holidays, nonessential federal government offices are closed, and most federal employees have a paid day off. Those who are required to work are generally entitled to holiday premium pay, according to OPM, which is double their basic pay rate. Federal law does not require state governments and private institutions to close on federal holidays, though many do.
The next federal holiday for federal employees is Memorial Day, on Monday, May 30, 2022.