Wishing a pleasant Washington's Birthday holiday to all
Posted on
February 20, 2017
Happy Washington's Birthday to all!

The Certification Magazine home office is closed today in honor of the U.S. holiday of Presidents Day. We'll be back tomorrow (Feb. 21), with more of the all-around IT certification goodness that you crave. Until then, please enjoy the following quiz in honor of U.S. presidents past and present.

1) Is there really a Presidents Day holiday in the United States?

2) Why was Presidents Day originally celebrated on Feb. 22 instead of on the third Monday in February?

3) But wait, George Washington wasn't actually born on Feb. 22, was he?

4) So are all of these questions going to be about holiday minutiae?

5) But wait, I learned in first grade that Presidents Day was timed to fall between the birthdays of George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12), the two greatest U.S. presidents.

6) Which former U.S. president had the coolest nickname?

7) Which former U.S. president was nicknamed "His Rotundity"? Probably William Howard Taft, right?

8) If Andrew Jackson was nicknamed "Old Hickory," then who was "Young Hickory"?

9) Which U.S. president never married?

10) Peaches come from a can. But who put them there?


1) Trick question! The answer, however, is technically no. The holiday that falls on the third Monday in February, designated by an act of Congress in 1879, is formally known as Washington's Birthday, in honor of the first U.S. president, George Washington. Presidents Day is an informal designation that took hold in the 1980s. Legislation that would have changed the name of the holiday from Washington's Birthday to Presidents Day was proposed, but never put to a vote, in 1968.

2) Because, as you now know, the holiday was initially created to honor George Washington, it was initially celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, Feb. 22. The date was changed in 1971 by passage in Congress of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Washington's Birthday (aka Presidents Day) can thus fall on any date in February between the 15th and the 21st, but no longer ever falls on George Washington's actual birthday.

3) If you want to get all historical about it, George Washington was born on what was believed, at the time of his birth, to be Feb. 11, 1731. At the time of Washington's birth in the then-British colony of Virginia, the British Empire still followed the Julian calendar begun by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. The empire switched to the more scientifically accurate Gregorian calendar in 1752, which formally revised Washington's birthdate to the currently recognized Feb. 22, 1732.

4) No.

5) Your first grade teacher was wrong.

6) Probably either Calvin "Sphinx of the Potomac" Coolidge, Harry "Give 'Em Hell Harry" Truman, Grover "The Beast of Buffalo" Cleveland, or Benjamin "The Human Iceberg" Harrison. Upon further review, though, don't you think Harrison is really the winner? How many other world historical figures have had nicknames that could double as the name of Marvel Comics superhero?

7) Wrong. Taft, who tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds (his peak poundage is variously reported to have been as high as 354 and as modest at 340), was unquestionably the heaviest president. His Rotundity, however, is an appellation that stuck to the short and heavyset second President of the United States, John Adams.

Happy Washington's Birthday to all!

8) It's another trick question! Two of Andrew Jackson's successors were nicknamed Young Hickory in their day. The name was attached to both James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce, who was technically differentiated from Polk by being called Young Hickory of the Granite Hills.

9) James Buchanan. Although Grover Cleveland married for the first time while in office, and several other U.S. presidents were widowers, Buchanan is only the chief executive to never take a spouse.

10) According to The Presidents of the United States of America, they were put there by a man, in a factory downtown.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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