U.S. Celebrates Presidents' Day Holiday

Millions of workers and school children in the United States are getting a day off Monday for the annual Presidents' Day holiday.

It first became a federal holiday in 1879 to celebrate the Feb. 22 birthday of the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Nearly a century later, in 1968, Congress passed a law shifting the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to predetermined Mondays in order to give workers three consecutive days off.

Retailers take advantage of the holiday -- held on the third Monday in February -- to promote sales and price cuts on their products.

Although the day is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has evolved into Presidents' Day to celebrate both Washington's birthday and that of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president whose birthday falls on Feb. 12. Lincoln's birthday was never an official federal holiday, although many states celebrated the day.

Presidents' Day is now widely viewed as a day to celebrate all presidents past and present.

VOA News / Feb. 18, 2014 08:14 KST