Happy Presidents (or Presidents’, or President’s) Day

 I want to wish each and every one of you a merry Presidents Day.  I hope you have all of your decorating done and will have a wonderful Presidents’ Day dinner and enjoy all of your President’s Day customs like. . . . 

Notice:  The Church knows how to throw good holidays, but the government has not got a clue.  This day began as a commemoration of George Washington, that great man and father of our country.  He deserves a holiday, and customs started to grow up around the day, such as having cherry pie and stores throwing sales.  

But then the sentiment grew to throw in Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was also in February.  And then, what the heck, let’s just celebrate ALL presidents, as if they were all of the stature of these two great Americans.So the holiday became generalized into impossible-to-visualize vagueness.  In doing so, the very reason for the holiday became lost.  (Why should we celebrate presidents and not have days devoted to the other branches of government?  Legislator Day?  Supreme Court Day?)  

And then the real reason to have holidays in our secularized state emerged:  Let’s change the day, marking a specific historic event, into a moveable feast so that it will always produce a three-day weekend!  That way government workers and others will have their day off work as part of a long weekend!

(I just wish someone would authoritatively rule on the place of the apostrophe in the holiday’s name.)  

Here is why this all matters:  This is another example, along with what we are seeing in education and theology, of the shift away from the OBJECT  (content,Christ,  honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bob Hunter

    I think we should have a C.F.W. Walther day and demand a day off for all Lutherans – paid, of course. And if we don’t get it, we can hold demonstrations and demand equal rights, claim persecution, etc.

  • Bob Hunter

    I think we should have a C.F.W. Walther day and demand a day off for all Lutherans – paid, of course. And if we don’t get it, we can hold demonstrations and demand equal rights, claim persecution, etc.

  • fw

    last time I counted the usa has 9 legal holidays. my new country Brasil has probably about 30. europe has lots as well.

    overlaying that with your analysis….. yikes…

  • fw

    last time I counted the usa has 9 legal holidays. my new country Brasil has probably about 30. europe has lots as well.

    overlaying that with your analysis….. yikes…

  • Carl Vehse

    Why should we celebrate presidents and not have days devoted to the other branches of government? Legislator Day? Supreme Court Day?

    We will… as soon as tarring and feathering are legal.

  • Carl Vehse

    Why should we celebrate presidents and not have days devoted to the other branches of government? Legislator Day? Supreme Court Day?

    We will… as soon as tarring and feathering are legal.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    “Here is why this all matters: This is another example, along with what we are seeing in education and theology, of the shift away from the OBJECT (content,Christ, honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).”

    The reason no one will definitively decide how to punctuate the Day is just because it is all about ME: each person gets to decide whether they are celebrating the day for all the presidents or a particular president. On leap year February’s, it is always Rutherford B. Hayes Day for me. The first P Day after leap year I like to go with George, then Abe, and finally I draw names from a hat. Last year I drew Truman, and drank a toast to the CIA.

    In practice and truth, I mostly just refer to this day as No Mail Day.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    “Here is why this all matters: This is another example, along with what we are seeing in education and theology, of the shift away from the OBJECT (content,Christ, honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).”

    The reason no one will definitively decide how to punctuate the Day is just because it is all about ME: each person gets to decide whether they are celebrating the day for all the presidents or a particular president. On leap year February’s, it is always Rutherford B. Hayes Day for me. The first P Day after leap year I like to go with George, then Abe, and finally I draw names from a hat. Last year I drew Truman, and drank a toast to the CIA.

    In practice and truth, I mostly just refer to this day as No Mail Day.

  • Jonathan

    I hope you all are exercising your political correctness today by wishing your fellow man, I mean, persons, a “happy holiday” instead of the brash and insensitive “happy President’s Day.” I suppose we could get around offending legislators and other government folks by just celebrating “government day.” What a happy occasion that would be!

  • Jonathan

    I hope you all are exercising your political correctness today by wishing your fellow man, I mean, persons, a “happy holiday” instead of the brash and insensitive “happy President’s Day.” I suppose we could get around offending legislators and other government folks by just celebrating “government day.” What a happy occasion that would be!

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    We enjoyed the president’s day sale weekend, especially the flyers and commercials featuring Ben Franklin. he he he

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    We enjoyed the president’s day sale weekend, especially the flyers and commercials featuring Ben Franklin. he he he

  • Mark

    I think it is so funny to see in “The Lutheran Pastor’s Desk Diary”, as we see in many calendars, “Washington’s Birthday…Traditional”,etc. Yeah, I bet his mother thought it was traditional after she gave birth to her son! I bet His Excellency thought February 22nd was his ‘traditional’ birthday. And notice what happens: the word ‘tradition’ is devalued. Tradition, in the best sense, is something of great import handed over (like the Words of Institution) but now it becomes merely optional. Because of “me,me,me”? (BTW: The desk diary, put out by Thrivent also has listed, Lincoln’s Birthday (traditional!) as February 10th and that’s not traditional!)

  • Mark

    I think it is so funny to see in “The Lutheran Pastor’s Desk Diary”, as we see in many calendars, “Washington’s Birthday…Traditional”,etc. Yeah, I bet his mother thought it was traditional after she gave birth to her son! I bet His Excellency thought February 22nd was his ‘traditional’ birthday. And notice what happens: the word ‘tradition’ is devalued. Tradition, in the best sense, is something of great import handed over (like the Words of Institution) but now it becomes merely optional. Because of “me,me,me”? (BTW: The desk diary, put out by Thrivent also has listed, Lincoln’s Birthday (traditional!) as February 10th and that’s not traditional!)

  • Joe

    “We enjoyed the president’s day sale weekend, especially the flyers and commercials featuring Ben Franklin. he he he”

    But Franklin was never president!!!! Oh man, this nation is in trouble.

  • Joe

    “We enjoyed the president’s day sale weekend, especially the flyers and commercials featuring Ben Franklin. he he he”

    But Franklin was never president!!!! Oh man, this nation is in trouble.

  • Ken

    Seems to me in days of yore (read: when I was a grade-schooler) we observed both Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays as holidays. The way I understood it, Presidents’ Day came about because of the Monday Holiday Bill that moved observance of most of the federal holidays to the closest Monday and a sense that two such holidays in February was too much.

    Perhaps I paint a target on myself for this admission, but as an admirer of Abraham Lincoln I do not like to see his recognition slighted. Sharing a holiday with George Washington is certainly appropriate (I also come from the era when it was common for public classrooms to display portraits of the two men); sharing that holiday with the other 41 is less so.

  • Ken

    Seems to me in days of yore (read: when I was a grade-schooler) we observed both Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays as holidays. The way I understood it, Presidents’ Day came about because of the Monday Holiday Bill that moved observance of most of the federal holidays to the closest Monday and a sense that two such holidays in February was too much.

    Perhaps I paint a target on myself for this admission, but as an admirer of Abraham Lincoln I do not like to see his recognition slighted. Sharing a holiday with George Washington is certainly appropriate (I also come from the era when it was common for public classrooms to display portraits of the two men); sharing that holiday with the other 41 is less so.

  • Carl Vehse

    An earlier post that got deleted had information on the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, signed by President Johnson, that went into effect in 1971.

    That legislation moved the federal holiday celebrating Washington’s birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February. There was and is no federal holiday for Lincoln’s birthday or for President(s/s’/’s) Day.

  • Carl Vehse

    An earlier post that got deleted had information on the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, signed by President Johnson, that went into effect in 1971.

    That legislation moved the federal holiday celebrating Washington’s birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February. There was and is no federal holiday for Lincoln’s birthday or for President(s/s’/’s) Day.

  • Ken

    From that eminently-reliable, all-pupose information source Wikipedia:

    “Lincoln’s Birthday is a legal holiday in some U.S. states including Illinois, Connecticut, California and possibly others. It is observed on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth on February 12, 1809. The day is marked by traditional wreath-laying ceremonies at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The latter has been the site of a ceremony ever since the Memorial was dedicated. Since that event in 1922, observances continue to be organized by the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee and by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. A wreath is laid on behalf of the President of the United States, a custom also carried out at the gravesites of all US presidents on their birthdays. Lincoln’s tomb is in Springfield, Illinois. Many states that had formerly observed this holiday have created a joint holiday to honor both Lincoln and George Washington, sometimes calling it ‘Presidents Day’. It coincides with the Federal holiday officially designated ‘Washington’s Birthday’, observed on the third Monday of February. There has never been an annual Federal holiday honoring Lincoln.”

    Clearly the source of my confusion is that I was in school in California prior to 1971 so we had the 12th and the 22nd off. Silly me to think the feds ever formally recognized Lincoln’s birthday.

  • Ken

    From that eminently-reliable, all-pupose information source Wikipedia:

    “Lincoln’s Birthday is a legal holiday in some U.S. states including Illinois, Connecticut, California and possibly others. It is observed on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth on February 12, 1809. The day is marked by traditional wreath-laying ceremonies at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The latter has been the site of a ceremony ever since the Memorial was dedicated. Since that event in 1922, observances continue to be organized by the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee and by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. A wreath is laid on behalf of the President of the United States, a custom also carried out at the gravesites of all US presidents on their birthdays. Lincoln’s tomb is in Springfield, Illinois. Many states that had formerly observed this holiday have created a joint holiday to honor both Lincoln and George Washington, sometimes calling it ‘Presidents Day’. It coincides with the Federal holiday officially designated ‘Washington’s Birthday’, observed on the third Monday of February. There has never been an annual Federal holiday honoring Lincoln.”

    Clearly the source of my confusion is that I was in school in California prior to 1971 so we had the 12th and the 22nd off. Silly me to think the feds ever formally recognized Lincoln’s birthday.

  • Booklover

    “.. .the shift away from the OBJECT (content,Christ, honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).”

    Why, whatever are you talking about?? I have been busy personally walking down the aisle and personally accepting and personally singing I surrender all, I have decided, I’ll just praise the lord; then I drank my grape juice. Whatever are you talking about???

  • Booklover

    “.. .the shift away from the OBJECT (content,Christ, honoring someone) to the SUBJECT (me, me, me).”

    Why, whatever are you talking about?? I have been busy personally walking down the aisle and personally accepting and personally singing I surrender all, I have decided, I’ll just praise the lord; then I drank my grape juice. Whatever are you talking about???

  • Booklover

    I do hope it is apparent that my last post was facetious. !!

  • Booklover

    I do hope it is apparent that my last post was facetious. !!


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