How To Explain Presidents Day To Kids (Beyond The Fact That They Have A 3-Day Weekend)

Kids typically don’t need an explanation for why they’re having a day off from school. Just being able to get a few extra minutes (or hours) of sleep, streaming services, and a never-ending supply of snacks is usually good enough for them. But while some holidays are pretty self-explanatory (like Halloween and Thanksgiving), there are others that can be kind of confusing — and Presidents Day is one of them. So if you’re trying to figure out how to explain Presidents Day to kids, we’ve got the executive order to explain it to you.

Sure, kids know exactly when Christmas or Kwanzaa are coming, but there’s something about the holidays that fall in February that can be kind of confusing. And that’s definitely the case for Presidents Day, since it doesn’t have a specific numerical date (it falls on the third Monday in February, FYI).

When your kiddo questions you: “What is Presidents Day all about?” this is what you need to know.

What Is Presidents Day?

If you thought that Presidents Day was about celebrating all the U.S. Presidents, you’d be right — and wrong, too. Although we celebrate all our past Presidents — both past and present — the holiday was actually reserved for our nation’s first POTUS, George Washington. Since Washington was born on February 22, 1732, President’s Day (with an apostrophe to emphasize the singular nature of the day) became a way to honor the nation’s first President.

Over time, President Washington had to share the spotlight with the 16th President of the United States — Abraham Lincoln, to be exact. Why? Well, Lincoln was also born in February (on the 12th), and so it was decided that both Washington and Lincoln would equally be celebrated on the holiday now known as Presidents Day (sans apostrophe).

President Lyndon B. Johnson made Presidents Day official when he signed it into law in 1968.

Is Presidents Day Celebrated By All 50 States?

It seems silly to question if a federal holiday that honors U.S. presidents is acknowledged by all the states in the union. Thing is, there are some states that don’t recognize Presidents Day, like the ones below:

  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Delaware
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island

Other states, such as Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, and the District of Columbia call it “Washington’s Birthday.” And if all that weren’t confusing enough, some states — like Montana, Maine, South Carolina, and Utah — do a combo and call it: “Lincoln/Washington/President’s Day” which is certainly a mouthful.

Why Is Presidents Day Celebrated On A Monday?

It’s unlikely that your child would complain about having a three day weekend, but it does bring up the point: why is Presidents Day celebrated on a Monday, and not, say, on a Wednesday? It’s all thanks to the Uniform Holiday Bill that proclaimed the three holidays – Memorial Day, Presidents Day and Veterans Day – should fall on Mondays. This was to space out the federal holidays and to give workers longer weekends to enjoy.


Are Schools Always Closed On Presidents Day?

Much to the chagrin of your child, not every school closes for Presidents Day. Again, it goes back to the fact that some states don’t recognize the holiday either partially or at all. Since each state decides its own legal holidays, it really depends where you live that will determine if your kid can stay home from school.


What Do You Say To Someone On Presidents Day?

That part can be a little tricky. After all, you’re probably not going to wish the school bus driver a Happy Presidents Day (if your kid has to go to school, that is). That said, you can wish someone a Happy Presidents Day, or if you’re looking for a cool Instagram caption to go with a patriotic pic of your child, you can always quote something that sounds presidential from, well, one of our former presidents. Here are some ideas for inspo:

“We can complain rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” –Abraham Lincoln.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Adams.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” – Harry S. Truman.

So when Presidents Day comes around, you might dress your child up in red, white, and blue, or break out a book that features the accomplishments of former presidents. But no matter what way you celebrate it, remember that it’s perfectly fine to feel pretty patriotic — July 4th won’t get jealous.

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