General Washington had the first public celebration of his birthday done by his wife, Martha, at the encampment at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778. The next official acknowledgement of Washington’s birthday would not occur for fifty-four years. At the recommendation of Henry Clay of the Senate and Philemon Thomas of the House, Congress adjourned on February 22, 1832 out of respect for Washington’s memory and in commemoration of his birth. Washington’s Birthday, however, did not become a legal holiday until January 31, 1879 when Congress added February 22nd to the list of holidays to be observed by federal employees. Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22nd until well into the 20th Century. However, in 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”
George Washington was born in Virginia on February 11, 1731, according to the then-used Julian calendar. In 1752, however, Britain and all its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar which moved Washington’s birthday a year and 11 days to February 22, 1732.
Come join the Philadelphia Continental Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution on Saturday, February 19th, as we recognize the 100th time our chapter of the SAR has publicly celebrated Washington’s Birthday with pomp and circumstance of a color guard procession and the laying of wreaths in Rittenhouse Square.
Place – Washington Square, 6th and Walnut St Phila.
- At 11:00 AM we will Present the Colors and conduct a Wreath Laying ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.
- AT 11:30 we march across the green to Independence Hall for a Wreath Laying in honor of George Washington.
- Afterward, we march to the Museum of the American Revolution for our traditional Color Guard photo.