The federal holiday, and resulting three-day weekend on the third February of each calendar year is officially listed by the Government as Washington’s Birthday. In 1971, the holiday was shifted to honor both President Lincoln (born on February 12th) and President Washington (born on February 22nd).
At first, the holiday was treated much like Memorial Day or Christmas; restaurants and retailers tended to close for business and people curtailed their normal activities. But in the late 1980s, a major lobbying campaign by some of Corporate America’s largest retail associations pushed for the the establishment of a new name for the holiday and a new rationale for its existence–Presidents’ Day and its immediate spawn, the President’s Day sale, quickly redefined the holiday from a quiet family time to one of the country’s most active shopping days of the year.
In the latest in a series of election-related videos, Why Tuesday‘s Jacob Soboroff looks at the recent consumer-induced transformation of Presidents’ day and rightfully asks why this country takes its shopping so much more seriously than its elections.
Watch the video and ponder the big question: If we can move Presidents’ Day for the convenience of shoppers, why can’t we make Election Day more convenient for voters? (Making Election Day a federal holiday with mandatory time-off would be a good start.)