Daily News

Washington Has Three Birthdays

The United States honors the country’s first president on the third Monday in February. The U.S. government gives federal workers a holiday – a paid day off. This year, the federal holiday the government calls George Washington’s Birthday falls on February 16.

But George Washington was not born on February 16. He was born on February 11, 1731 in the British colony of Virginia. Later, Britain and its colonies changed the kind of calendar they used. The new record-keeping system moved Washington’s birthday to February 22.

So, for many years, Americans informally celebrated Washington’s birthday on February 22. In the late 1800s, Congress made the day a legal holiday.

Then, about 50 years ago, Congress passed a law to give Americans more 3-day weekends. Lawmakers decided to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on the third Monday in February. That way, workers could extend their traditional two-day weekend to Monday.

But neither of Washington’s birth dates – February 11 nor February 22 – will ever fall on the third Monday in February. So George Washington’s Birthday is never really George Washington’s birthday.