Presidents’ Day has not always been in the official capacity that it currently holds in the United States. Different parts of the United States celebrate different holidays. For many years the students in the Chicago area received a day off school to honor Casimir Pulaski Day. The reason for this observance was simply the large Polish population in Chicago. Casimir Pulaski was an important leader during the American Revolution, and is known as “the father of the American cavalry.”
Originally the birthdays of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were celebrated unofficially. In the 1870s President Rutherford B. Hayes officially signed Presidents’ Day into a federal holiday. In the 1960s there was a push to move federal holidays to all take place on a Monday. This push became the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Eventually, more localized holidays such as Casimir Pulaski Day became less observed, at least in an official sense. In the early 2000s, the actual birthdays of Washington and Lincoln had for the most part shifted to Presidents’ Day which falls on the calendar between the two birthdays. Today, Presidents’ Day is usually viewed as a patriotic holiday similar to Independence Day.