According to History.com, the holiday was originally observed on Feb. 22 which was the birthday of the nation’s first president, George Washington. In fact, Presidents’ Day is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. It was first celebrated in 1800 following his death.
The name change came about in 1971 as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which was an attempt to create more extended weekends for U.S. workers. The Act also combined the observance of Washington and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays, giving “equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen.”