5 fun facts for Presidents Day

With the third Monday of February devoted to celebrating Presidents Day, there are a lot of fun facts and quirky details about presidents that surround this national holiday.

Let’s take a look back at our presidential history and pay homage to some of our founding fathers.

"Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington" by Gilbert Stuart. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
“Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington” by Gilbert Stuart. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Happy birthday, presidents! This Monday is a day dedicated to celebrating Washington’s birthday, which was also celebrated during his lifetime. It wasn’t until 1885 that a bill was signed to make it a federal holiday. However, the same can’t be said for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is not a federally designated holiday. Still, Presidents Day throws a killer birthday party for every president by giving us a three-day weekend!
  1. Speeches and cherries! Some of the most notable Presidents Day traditions involve the strangest of practices, like annual readings and buckets of cherries. The practice to read President Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address started on Washington’s birthday to boost morale, while gorging their faces with cherry pie helped people remember the apocryphal story of “Washington and the cherry tree.”
  1. Royal balls, weddings and senior proms. If you lived in the White House, why wouldn’t you throw huge parties every now and then? James Madison especially was known for hosting elaborate events like balls and parties. Plus, what better place to have yourself a white wedding than in the White House? In 1886, Grover Cleveland was the first president to get married while in office. Finally, Gerald Ford had his “senior moment” when he allowed his daughter to host her senior prom in the East Room in 1975.
  1. Presidential family fun. Every president has something that makes their family unique. Warren G. Harding cherished his pet terrier, Laddie Boy, who even had his own special chair for cabinet meetings. While some families have pets or wear matching T-shirts, each member of Roosevelt family owned a pair of stilts. Finally, dear-old-dad John Tyler had 15 children, more than any president in history.

    Cracked portrait of Abraham Lincoln
    The original print of the “cracked-plate” portrait of Abraham Lincoln. (Source: McClatchy Tribune/MCT)
  1. Model presidents. Before they were the leaders or our nation, our U.S. presidents were just like us. Gerald Ford was actually a male model before he was in office and appeared on the cover of The Cosmopolitan in 1942.  Before Abraham Lincoln went down as one of the greatest presidents in history, he was a bartender and the co-owner of the Berry and Lincoln saloon. George Washington seemed to be bred for presidency though, as he became a land surveyor at age 16 and later went on to be a lieutenant and general through the war years.