BYU–Hawaii students say they are unsure why we celebrate Presidents’ Day in the United States

Written by: 
Elijah Hadley


Every February, citizens of the United States observe Presidents’ Day. Despite it being a federal holiday, two BYU–Hawaii students said they do not know enough about it and see the day as just another day off.

Caleb Menendez, a junior from Illinois majoring in information services, said he did not really understand the purpose of Presidents’ Day. “In school, the teachers never really taught us about it. For the kids, it was just another day off of school for us. And at the time, that was good enough for me.

“I don't really know what the purpose is of the holiday. I know we had a parade back in Chicago which was cool, but I bet 7 out of 10 people don't know the reason for the holiday

“It seems like a poor excuse for car dealerships and mattress stores to have sales. We as a population treat it as just another holiday. And there is the question if we should even have a holiday for our presidents, because some people may not like all the ones we’ve had.”

According to David Bannister, a freshman from California majoring in political science, Presidents’ Day was not established as a federal holiday until the year 1885 by Congress. Originally, it was made to solely honor George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on Feb. 22.

“It was first called Washington's Birthday, as the holiday which began in the 1880s,” Bannister explained. The name change was not solidified until 1971 when the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Bill’ came in effect. It has been commonly accepted now and referred too with the name Presidents’ Day.”

Bannister continued, “Congress never did approve the name change with the bill, but businesses and consumers have helped it to be known as Presidents’ Day.”

Despite his skepticism about the holiday, Menendez said his favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln was a boss; he stood by his morals and never backed down. I would have a holiday just about him. I don’t think all presidents in our history should be celebrated.”

Leilani Tafili, a junior from Samoa majoring in political science, said her home country does not have an official holiday for presidents, but it recognizes the day. “Meaning, we have respect for the presidents of other countries. From my perspective, I think it is necessary to have a presidents holiday because it shows respect to the leaders that have taken upon them the responsibility of leading the country.

“We celebrate Black Saturday to remind us of the day Tupua Tamasese (a Samoan leader) was killed, which led to our country’s independence. Leaders help make a nation great and they also make a nation fall. However, it is natural that we respect those above us just how we respect our church presidents. Also, it gives us a whole day to take a break from school and work.”


Date Published: 
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, February 20, 2019