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US Celebrates Presidents' Day Holiday

FILE - Lewis Bliss, 10, of Burke, Va., dressed in a musicians outfit from the revolutionary war era, center, meets George Washington, portrayed by Dean Malissa, during Presidents Day activities at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate in Mount Vernon, V
Millions of workers and school children in the United States are getting a day off Monday for the annual Presidents' Day holiday.

It first became a federal holiday in 1879 to celebrate the February 22 birthday of the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Nearly a century later, in 1968, Congress passed a law shifting the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to predetermined Mondays in order to give workers three consecutive days off.

Retailers take advantage of the holiday - held on the third Monday in February - to promote sales and price cuts on their products.

Although the day is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has evolved into Presidents' Day to celebrate both Washington's birthday and that of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president whose birthday falls on February 12. Lincoln's birthday was never an official federal holiday, although many states celebrated the day.

Presidents' Day is now widely viewed as a day to celebrate all presidents past and present.