Video: Presidents Day quiz stumps even the questioner

Ready for an All-American holiday? Presidents Day is just around the corner, on Feb. 17.

But aside from the massive sales at department stores, auto dealerships and furniture stores, what really makes this holiday stick out for us? How well do we really know Presidents Day and its traditions?

We took to the streets of St. Petersburg to ask people to take our "Presidents Day Challenge" to see how much they knew about the holiday. The video above is the result. But there's more to the story.

First of all, the holiday's name is confusing. The federal government officially began celebrating George Washington's birthday in 1789, when it closed offices in Washington. By 1885, it was celebrated on Feb. 22 each year across the United States by all federal offices.

A push began in the 1950s to honor both Abraham Lincoln and Washington with a Presidents Day, but the change was never actually made into law and officially remained Washington's Birthday in celebrations.

In 1971, the holiday was switched to the third Monday of February. And that's where things really get squishy. Though the name was never officially adapted as Presidents Day, a push led by advertisers in the 1980s led to the widespread use of the term.

Now states can use the term interchangeably if they wish. But there is no officially recognized federal or state holiday in Florida called Presidents Day.

Which leads us back to our questions and some of the answers we got.

We first asked our participants whose birthday is on Feb. 12? We also asked them about Presidents Day and what they knew about it. Their answers ranged from nothing (although to be fair she was from Australia) to a lot (a historian from Michigan).

(We also let our confusion over the holiday creep into the questions when we asked when Presidents Day officially began to be celebrated. So the '80s, and not 1971, is the correct answer.)

Other fun facts to know about Washington and Lincoln's birthdays:

• Washington was born in 1732, so this would be his 282nd birthday.

• Lincoln was born in 1809 and would have been 205 on Wednesday.

• Lincoln's birthday is a state holiday in Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois.

• New Mexico observes Presidents Day on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

And there you have it. Now get out and hit those sales.

Times (2003)

Video: Presidents Day quiz stumps even the questioner 02/11/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:56am]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

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