Friday, February 22

Washington's Birthday, It's All Clear Now

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By Grant Davies

On this day, February 22, (minus one year and eleven days) in 1732, George Washington was born in Virginia. Well..maybe.

Let's start over again. On February 11, 1731, George Washington was born in Virginia.

And that's why we celebrate his birthday on the third Monday in February, which mathematically cannot occur any later than the 21st. So, as shocking as it may be to observers of  government efficiency, it's a certainty that the country will never celebrate on his actual birthday. Or even his alternate birthday.

And if you are wondering about the year difference, don't blame me, call your congressman. I got the info from an official government site, so it can't be wrong. (I'm a little confused about that.)

Don't panic if you're confused too, we're going to sort this all out for you so you can celebrate it properly on "Presidents Day", which of course doesn't actually exist. Not officially anyway. And as long as we're on the subject, Washington's birthday doesn't count as an official national holiday.

Heck, I'm still confused and I'm the one writing this clarification. So just to be clear, or less un-clear, let's get this all down in bullet points. Just don't use the bullets on me.

  • Washington was actually born on February 11th, 1731. The calender being used some places (like here) at that time was the Julian calendar which was named after the same guy they named the salad for. And if you think this birthday stuff is confusing, just try to figure out the whole change-over thing. The guy who figured it out originally was a few minutes short of a year, if you know what I mean.
  • In 1752, (not sure which day) the Gregorian calendar was adopted, which was named after the same guy they named the chant for. So someone had to tell poor George that he was actually born on February 22, 1732. History doesn't record whether George was surprised, pleased, or chagrined. (Or whether he grinned, for that matter.)
  • Washington's Birthday is not a national holiday, it's a federal holiday. It only applies to federal government employees and the District of Columbia. 
  • "Presidents Day" doesn't actually exist at all, except maybe for certain individual states. It's never been proclaimed by the federal government. In 1968, Congress passed the "Monday Holiday Law", so people, particularly federal employees, could have more three day weekends because everyone was working too hard.
To celebrate this clarification, visit Fraunces Tavern in NYC, where Geo said bye-bye to his troops, and have a toast to clarity. But be sure to stop drinking before things start to get blurry again.

Congratulations to Bob and Sara Aldworth! The 15 Seconds of Fame award for the idea behind this story has gained them a place in history! At least in Cheeky History.  This is the first time this year the award has been given. We hope you will send us great ideas like this too. If we don't keep getting ideas for new posts, we might be history ourselves.

Please don't blame them for the dreadful writing or any inaccuracies we may have committed. It was only their idea, anything awful is my fault.

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