What day is today? We see President’s Day, Presidents’ Day and Presidents Day used all over the place today. In advertisements, service announcements, commercials, etc..
Which one is correct?
Actually, none of them are correct for the nation as a whole. Today is Washington’s Birthday.
Often there was retreat; and often there was defeat. But there was always the calm and confident figure of Washington. Often it was his figure alone that kept the Spirit alive.
Today, if we are to keep that spirit alive, we must keep the spirit of Washington.
The cartoon above is most likely from Frank Miller. It does not have a signature, but is representative of his work. It did come from one of my Grandma’s scrapbooks where there are a lot of his cartoons. This was from a 1959 scrapbook when Washington’s Birthday was still officially celebrated on February 22.
So, back to the original question. What day is today? According to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, it is still officially Washington’s Birthday.
Some states have passed additional legislation to rename Washington’s Birthday as Presidents’ Day. The weekend itself is also often known as Presidents’ Day Weekend (apostrophe placement varies).
For someone who takes grammar seriously, this weekend can be grating on the nerves as they see the apostrophe moving all over the place.
Of course, Washington’s Birthday is an easy one to figure out and the apostrophe is not often misplaced. The Birthday belongs to Washington and therefore we use the possessive apostrophe between the n and the s.
If the day was only honoring President Washington, we should use President’s Day.
If we mean that the day honors both President Washington and President Lincoln we could use Presidents’ Day as the day belongs to both of them.
However, since Presidents is used as an attributive noun to modify the noun Day, Presidents Day can also been used. In recent years the use of attributive nouns has been increasing and several style manuals now give Presidents Day as the preferred style when used in this sense. It is also more inclusive as this day is often used to honor all presidents.
The find out more about the figurines used to illustrate this post, click on the link to a post I wrote last week: Marx Presidents
So, what day is today?
For me, as I live in California, it is Washington’s Birthday. The weekend is Presidents Day Weekend, since it falls between the birthdays of two of our greatest presidents.
I looked through several California Government websites and saw it used different ways. I even saw one website use Presidents’ Day with a footnote referring to Section 6103(a) of the US Code and saying they use the name of the Holiday designated in the law. What is interesting is that Section 6103(a) uses Washington’s Birthday :-).
Which do you think is the correct name to use for today?