Sunday, 14 February 2016

mason-dixon or white-sale

I always considered the US federal holiday, known as Presidents’ Day, to be a pretty anodyne concession to something akin to the monarch’s birthday (usually shifted to the summer months, irrespective of the actual date of birth of the reigning royal to increase the chances of nicer weather) but it’s actually quite politically and grammatically contentious, rather than the monolithic excuse for discounts for towels and bedding that bespeak patriotism.
Originally celebrated as George Washington’s birthday only, Abraham Lincoln—also born in February—was added later, though many jurisdictions did not get as far as adopting the correct orthography in moving from president’s to presidents’ and many States, especially those that suffered under the War of Northern Aggression still honour Thomas Jefferson (born in April) instead of Lincoln or choose it as a day to honour the office and no specific office-holder. Uniquely, Arkansas chooses to toast Washington and a civil rights activist, Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (born and passed away in the month of November) on this day for her pivotal actions during the Little Rock schools integration crisis on the late 1950s. Yet other states do their own thing entirely to supplement that national mandate. Ironically, with the passage of the act that moved all federal holidays to Mondays in the early 1970s, proclamation Presidents’ Day to be held on the third Monday of February, the observance can never fall on Washington’s actually birth date of 22 February.