Presidents Day 2024: Holiday trivia and fun facts about Washington's Birthday

For many Americans, Presidents Day means a day off of work or school, a banking holiday and lots of shopping deals. But that’s not what our forefathers had in mind when they made Washington’s Birthday a formal holiday. 

Every third Monday in February, the nation honors its first president, George Washington, who served as America’s leader from 1789-1797. 

Here’s what to know about Presidents Day, formally known as Washington’s Birthday, and other trivia about the 46 U.S. presidents.

RELATED: What's open and closed on Presidents Day

Washington’s Birthday

Presidents Day is an informal term for the actual holiday we celebrate every year: Washington’s Birthday, though Washington paid little attention to his birthday, according to, the website of the organization that manages his estate. Surviving records make no mention of observances at Mount Vernon, while his diary shows he was often hard at work.


George Washington (Library of Congress)

Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732, on Popes Creek Plantation near the Potomac River in Virginia.

Washington’s birthday was celebrated by his peers in government when he was president — mostly.

Congress voted during his first two terms to take a short commemorative break each year, with one exception, his last birthday in office, Coe said. By then Washington was less popular, partisanship was rampant and many members of his original Cabinet were gone, including Thomas Jefferson.

RELATED: Why did George Washington have two birthdays?

Washington’s Birthday became a formal holiday in 1879, and has since become informally known as Presidents Day. Arguments have been made to honor President Abraham Lincoln as well because his birthday falls nearby on Feb. 12. 

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect in 1971, moving Presidents Day to the third Monday in February. 

How many presidents have died while in office? 

Eight presidents have died while serving in office. Four died of natural causes, while the other four were assassinated. They are: 

William Henry Harrison: Harrison, the ninth president of the U.S. served the shortest term with 32 days in office – after presenting his Inaugural Address on March 4, 1841. He caught a cold that turned to pneumonia. Vice President John Tyler took office following his death, according to The White House. 


William Henry Harrison (Library of Congress)

Zachary Taylor: Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, died on July 9, 1850, after a brief illness. His cause of death is debated by historians. Some say he died of cholera, while others say he died of gastroenteritis from the acid caused by eating cherries with fresh milk, according to 

Abraham Lincoln: The 16th president of the United States, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, while attending a special performance of the comedy, "Our American Cousin," according to the Library of Congress. He died nine hours later at a boarding house across the street. Vice President Andrew Johnson succeeded him in office. 


Abraham Lincoln (Library of Congress)

James Garfield: Garfield, the 20th president of the U.S., was shot in the back by assassin Charles J. Guiteau in Washington, D.C., on July 2, 1881. He died less than three months later, on Sept. 19, of complications stemming from the shooting, according to The Miller Center. Vice President Chester A. Arthur succeeded him.

William McKinley: McKinley, the 25th president, was shot by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz on Sept. 6, 1901. He died eight days later on Sept. 14, six months after being sworn in for a second term, according to The Miller Center. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took office following his death. 


William McKinley (Library of Congress)

Warren Harding: Harding, the 29th president, died suddenly in San Francisco on Aug. 2, 1923, likely from a heart attack. Vice President Calvin Coolidge succeeded him. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The only president to win a fourth term, FDR, the 32nd president, died suddenly of a stroke in April 1945. Vice President Harry Truman took office following his death. 

John F. Kennedy: Kennedy, the 35th president and youngest ever elected to office at 43, was shot and killed while riding in a parade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He was succeeded by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. 


John F. Kennedy (Library of Congress)

How many presidents have died on July 4th? 

Three presidents have died on Independence Day. 

Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president and the main author of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4, 1826, just hours apart from the death of his "frenemy" and presidential predecessor, John Adams. 


Thomas Jefferson (Library of Congress)

Five years later, James Monroe, the fifth president of the U.S.,died on July 4, 1831. 

Who is the oldest president? 

While Kennedy was the youngest to ever take office, President Joe Biden, the 46th president, is the oldest president to take office. He was 78 years old when he was inaugurated in 2021. 

Before Biden, former President Donald Trump was the oldest person to take office. He was 70 when he was inaugurated in 2017. 


Ronald Reagan (Library of Congress)

Former President Ronald Reagan, who was 69 when he first took office as the 40th president of the U.S., was the oldest president to take office before Trump. 

The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this report.