Why Presidents’ Day?
Sunday, February 17th, 2008
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The federal holiday officially listed as Washington’s Birthday, in 1971 was shifted to honor both President Lincoln (who was born on February 12th) and President Washington (who was born on February 22nd), resulting in the three-day break on the third weekend of every February.
It is now commonly referred to as Presidents’ Day by the millions of bargain hunters that swarm the checkout lines. Be it car dealerships, electronic stores, malls, or clothing shops, there are desired discounts to be had from retailers throughout the country.
Before the 1980’s, the holiday was treated much like Memorial Day or Christmas; and everything from restaurants to retailers was likely to be closed. Today, the hucksters and admen win out, and more and more businesses stay open each year. Despite the USPS being closed, UPS, FEDEX and DHL offer mailing options notwithstanding the National Holiday designation.
American consumers are generally united in their excitement over low-prices, a long weekend, and no mail; but state governments disagree on the name, just as they do in election processes. Alabama officially honors George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who was born in April). Arkansas celebrates Washington’s birthday, but locals also celebrate Daisy Gatson Bates Day (Daisy was a Civil Rights activist born in November). Massachusetts commemorates all Presidents that were born in that State, and New Mexico officially observes the holiday on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. Rest assured, all the other States add their own nuanced flavor to the Presidents’ Day mix.
With increasing economic uncertainty only time will tell if retailers are going to experience more consumer spending this year. Having saved-up their money and heretofore restrained their materialism, my guess is that most people will continue to buy the newest and hottest items. As an election reformer/citizen journalist, I hope that folks will put as much planning into exercising their democratic franchise as they do in spending their money. And especially so, since at the end of the day, while they may rue using their financial capital, they should have no regrets about wisely employing their political capital.