Presidents’ Day: Honoring Past U.S. Presidents

Key Takeaways

– There is a disagreement among marketers regarding the spelling of Presidents’ Day, with some using an apostrophe and others omitting it.
– The AP Stylebook advises against using an apostrophe, while The Chicago Manual of Style allows for it.
– The holiday was originally established to honor George Washington’s birthday, but it has since evolved to include all U.S. presidents.
– Congress rejected a proposed name change to Presidents’ Day, but it has become the commonly accepted name due to retailers’ use of it to promote sales.

The Origins of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day, originally known as Washington’s Birthday, was established to honor the first president of the United States, George Washington. It was first celebrated on February 22nd, Washington’s actual birthday, in 1885. The holiday was created to commemorate Washington’s contributions to the nation and to inspire patriotism among Americans.

The Spelling Debate: Apostrophe or No Apostrophe?

One of the ongoing debates surrounding Presidents’ Day is the spelling of the holiday. Some marketers and writers use an apostrophe to denote a plural possessive, as in “Presidents’ Day.” However, others argue that the apostrophe should be omitted, resulting in “Presidents Day.” The AP Stylebook advises against using an apostrophe, while The Chicago Manual of Style allows for it. This disagreement has led to confusion and inconsistency in how the holiday is written about.

The Evolution of Presidents’ Day

Over time, Presidents’ Day has evolved to include not only George Washington but also all U.S. presidents. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which moved the celebration of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February. This change was made to create more three-day weekends and to honor other presidents as well. As a result, Presidents’ Day became the commonly accepted name for the holiday.

The Impact of Retailers on Presidents’ Day

The spelling of Presidents’ Day has been heavily influenced by retailers and their marketing strategies. In an effort to attract customers and boost sales, many retailers began using the term “Presidents’ Day” in their advertisements. This usage became widespread and eventually led to the adoption of the name by the general public. Today, Presidents’ Day is often associated with sales and discounts, thanks to the efforts of retailers.

How Should We Write About Presidents’ Day?

Given the ongoing debate and lack of consensus among style guides, the question remains: how should we write about Presidents’ Day? Ultimately, the decision may depend on the specific style guide you follow or the preferences of your audience. It is important to be consistent in your usage throughout your writing and to provide clear explanations if you choose to deviate from the commonly accepted spelling.

Celebrating Presidents’ Day: Traditions and Activities

Presidents’ Day is a time for Americans to celebrate and honor the contributions of past presidents. Many communities hold parades, reenactments, and other events to commemorate the holiday. Some people also take the opportunity to visit historical sites and landmarks associated with presidents, such as Mount Vernon or the Lincoln Memorial. Additionally, schools often teach students about the presidents and their accomplishments during this time.

Presidents’ Day Around the World

While Presidents’ Day is a national holiday in the United States, other countries also have their own versions of this celebration. In Canada, for example, the third Monday in February is known as “Family Day” in some provinces. This holiday is a time for families to spend quality time together and enjoy various activities. Similarly, some countries in Latin America have holidays that coincide with Presidents’ Day, although they may have different names and traditions.

Presidents’ Day Sales: A Shopper’s Paradise

One of the most notable aspects of Presidents’ Day in the United States is the abundance of sales and discounts offered by retailers. Many people take advantage of the long weekend to shop for various items, from clothing and electronics to furniture and appliances. Retailers often advertise special deals and promotions to attract customers, making Presidents’ Day a shopper’s paradise.

Presidents’ Day: A Time for Reflection and Appreciation

Beyond the sales and celebrations, Presidents’ Day is also a time for reflection and appreciation. It is an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and challenges faced by past presidents and to appreciate the impact they have had on the nation. It is a reminder of the importance of leadership and the role that presidents play in shaping the course of history. Whether you choose to include an apostrophe or not, Presidents’ Day serves as a reminder of the rich history and legacy of the United States’ leaders.


Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day, is a holiday that honors the contributions of past U.S. presidents. The spelling of the holiday has been a subject of debate among marketers and writers, with some using an apostrophe and others omitting it. The holiday has evolved over time to include all U.S. presidents, and its name was popularized by retailers’ use of it to promote sales. Regardless of the spelling, Presidents’ Day is a time for celebration, reflection, and appreciation of the leaders who have shaped the nation.

Written by Martin Cole

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