Presidents Day means a day off for millions of school kids and some of their parents. All but a few government offices are closed. Patriotic and historical groups are staging re-enactments. Retailers are taking advantage of the holiday to lure in shoppers with sales.
The observance became a federal holiday in 1879 to mark the Feb. 22 birthday of the first U.S. president, George Washington. About a hundred years later, Congress passed a law shifting the holiday from set dates to predetermined Mondays to give people a three-day weekend.
Washington's birthday became one of five national bank holidays, which include New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was the first holiday honoring the life of an individual American. The second, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was signed into law in 1983.
Though technically still known at Washington's birthday, today's holiday has morphed into Presidents' Day to also commemorate the birthday of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, and eventually all presidents.
Here's a partial list of what's open and closed today:
- All libraries, except Martin Luther King Jr. Library in downtown San Jose. For the full schedule, click here.
- Parking is free at most city-owned downtown garages.
- Santa Clara County offices will be closed. Here's a look at the county's holiday schedule.
- San Jose City Hall will resume regular business hours Tuesday morning.
- Garbage and recycling will occur as normal today.
- Police and fire and all other critical city services will remain unaffected by the closure.
- Check with your local community center for holiday hours—some will remain open, though most will be closed for the day.