Presidents Day — With or Without an Apostrophe S

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Here’s a little quiz for you.

Which one of these is a holiday?

  1. Presidents Day
  2. President’s Day
  3. Presidents’ Day
  4. None of the above

That’s one of those test questions that I can’t answer at first glance. Let’s do some investigation so maybe we can use the test taking skill of “process of elimination.”

Can we find a clue?
  1. Presidents Day.  Adding an S with no apostrophe tells you it’s plural.  Presidents Day means it’s a day to honor presidents in general, but the honor belongs to no one in particular.
  2. President’s Day.  Adding an S with the apostrophe immediately preceding it tells you it’s possessive — it belongs to a president   President’s Day means it’s a day given in honor to one specific president. George Washington OR Abraham Lincoln; one of the two, but not both.
  3. Presidents’ Day. Adding an S with the apostrophe immediately following it tells you it’s plural possessive — it belongs to more than one president.   Presidents’ Day means it’s a day given in honor of two or more presidents. George Washington AND Abraham Lincoln perhaps others
  4. None of the above. This answer is just plain silly.  It has to mean one of the above.

If I was taking this quiz, I would have to say that trying the “process of elimination” did me no good. The answer still could be A, B, or C. But I’m really not sure which.

Further research . . .

If it’s an open book quiz, perhaps a could look at a calendar to see what it says.

The calendar on my wall says it’s Presidents Day – no apostrophe.  Plural.

My Yahoo calendar says it’s President’s Day – apostrophe preceding the S. Possessive.

My Google calendar says it’s Presidents’ Day – apostrophe following the S. Plural possessive.

My government calendar says it’s none of the above.  That site lists it as Washington’s Birthday.

Even with a calendar right in front of me,  I still can’t eliminate any of the four possible answers. In fact, the only one I thought I could eliminate (d. None of the above) just became a real possibility.

Federal Holiday . . .

Presidents Day is the third Monday in February, observed in the United States in honor of US presidents, especially George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who were born in February. The holiday was originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, and it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government.

State Holiday . . .

But state laws are not necessarily the same as Federal.  According to Wikipedia  depending upon the each state’s specific law, the state holiday might officially celebrate Washington alone, Washington and Lincoln, or some other combination of U.S. presidents.

  • Presidents’ Day  in Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.  (plural possessive)
  • President’s Day in Alaska, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  (singular possessive)
  • Presidents Day (plural) in Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Oregon
  • Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day  in Maine.  (both Washington and President are singular possessive)
  • Lincoln/Washington/Presidents’ Day in Arizona.  (plural possessive)
  • Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthday in Montana.  (word president not used)
  • Washington–Lincoln Day in Colorado, Ohio.  (word president not used)
  • Washington and Lincoln Day in Utah.  (word president not used)
  • Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday in Minnesota.  (word president not used)
  • George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Birthday in Alabama.  (word president not used)
  • George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day in Arkansas.  (word president not used and who is Daisy Bates?)
So back to our original question . . . . .

Which one of these are we celebrating on 20 February?

  1. Presidents Day
  2. President’s Day
  3. Presidents’ Day
  4. None of the above

It was obviously a trick question. Answers a, b, and c are all correct, along with several others not listed. The answer depends on where you are.  I guess we need another choice:

e.  All of the above.

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