Historians: Washington shares his holiday

Feb. 15, 2010 at 7:27 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. experts say the President's Day holiday honoring Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln is really only officially a day to celebrate Washington.

The federal holiday referred to as President's Day by stores pushing sales and government employees taking the day off is really the federal holiday Washington's Birthday, originally marked Feb. 22, the first U.S. president's birthday according to the abandoned Gregorian calendar, and moved to the third Monday in February by Congress in 1971, CNN reported Monday.

"In the earlier years, when it was celebrated, it was more than celebrating his birth, it was celebrating what we liked about Washington: He walked away from power, a very poignant lesson for people," presidential historian Doug Wead said.

Wead, who served as an adviser to President George H.W. Bush, said U.S. residents later came to associate the day with another beloved president, Abraham Lincoln.

"Lincoln, because he was assassinated, he overnight became a beloved figure and suddenly a genius," Wead said.

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