An esteemed graduate of the Sigmund Freud University of Priapus Studies, Special Occasion and Holiday Celebrations, Dr. H is uniquely qualified to untangle for our readers the twisted political history of Presidents Day, an American holiday unlike any other in its confusing complexity and entropic randomness. Here is a text of remarks he has prepared for delivery at a P-Day celebration in the appliance department of Sears near Chloride City. Plenty of free parking.
On behalf of my colleagues at Calbuzz, a very merry,
healthful and prosperous President’s Day to one and all.
Or is it Presidents’ Day? Or maybe Presidents Day? Whatever.
Today we celebrate with kith and kin the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. As every school child knows, the Act, also known as Public Law 90-363, established in 1971 a national holiday to observe George Washington’s birthday annually on the third Monday of February. Even though he was born on Feb. 22, a date that never falls on the third Monday of February. Whatever.
Actually George was born on Feb. 11, 1732. But, as every school child knows, the 11th got switched to the 22nd when our brave, still nascent nation changed from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, 20 years after he was born.
History tells us that George appears to have been all right with the change, even though Feb. 11 never falls on the third Monday in February either. Whatever.
This solemn and joyous national celebration that we mark today was designed for two noble reasons:
Because federal employee unions wanted more three-day weekends for their members. And retailers were looking for another big sales window to shove consumer products that people didn’t really need down their throats with loads of hysterical advertising featuring pictures of Washington and Abraham Lincoln wearing funny hats and making funny faces.
Or as President Lyndon Johnson put it in his signing statement:
THE BILL that we sign today will help Americans to enjoy more fully the country that is their magnificent heritage. It will also aid the work of Government and bring new efficiency to our economy… Americans will be able to participate in a wider range of recreational and cultural activities.
Cultural activities like buying cars and big screen TVs and Nikes, which is why those of you who work at Fry’s and Foot Locker don’t have the day off.
His birthday is Feb. 12, which never falls on the third Monday of the month, either. But everybody thinks that they stuck Presidents’ Day between the two birthdays for a combined celebration of the Father of Our Country and the Great Emancipator. Duhh: everybody’s wrong – there’s no national holiday called Presidents’ Day. Whatever.
Back in the day, there was a bill introduced to make it a combined holiday. But it didn’t have the votes to get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. So the feds officially call Presidents’ Day Washington’s Birthday.
Nobody’s quite sure why the other thing didn’t fly- maybe George’s relatives greased up committee members with campaign contributions, or sweetheart deals on big-ass cabinet color TVs or something. Whatever.
The Senate be damned, a bunch of states, including California, decided to have their own presidents days anyway. After that: all marketing and advertising all the time.
Only problem was, they couldn’t agree on how to spell it;. Some states call it
Presidents’ Day, which the Chicago Manual of Style thinks is all right. But the AP, which thinks using nouns as adjectives is a great idea, uses Presidents Day.
One thing’s for sure: President’s Day is widely frowned upon by grammar disciplinarians, even though everybody seems fine putting the apostrophe in the same place when they spell Washington’s Birthday. Whatever.
Anyway, I’m off to Best Buy to get myself a 60″ Class AQUOS LC-60E77UN large-screen flat-panel, with full HD 1080p resolution. Is this a great country or what? So Happy Birthday George and Abe. Or whatever.