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Lincoln's Birthday

Lincoln's Birthday 2017 and 2018

Lincoln’s Birthday is an American holiday observed only by a select few states. The holiday is meant to celebrate the anniversary of the former president’s birthday, February 12th, 1809.

YearDateDayHolidayState
201712 FebSunLincoln's BirthdayCT IL MO NY
13 FebMonLincoln's Birthday HolidayCT IL MO NY
201812 FebMonLincoln's BirthdayCT IL MO NY

Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, and California all choose to celebrate this holiday. New Jersey used to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday until it enacted what is called The Public Employee Pension and Benefits Reform Act of 2008. Beginning on the 29th of September, 2008, the holiday in this state was eliminated.

Most states choose to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday in combination with other holidays, such as with the celebration of George Washington’s birthday as it also falls in February. In this case, the holiday is often called “Washington’s Birthday” or “Presidents’ Day” and falls on the third Monday of February. This allows it to coincide with the Federal holiday rather than the presidents’ actual birthdays.

The History Behind Lincoln’s Birthday in the United States

Perhaps the first celebration known of Lincoln’s birthday was in 1874 in Buffalo, New York. A druggist, Julius Frances, who was from the city was determined to honor the recently assassinated President for the rest of his life. Although Francis died in 1881, he managed to repeatedly petition to Congress for the establishment of a legal holiday for Lincoln’s birthday.

Over the years, more and more people began celebrating the holiday. A tradition in Hodgenville, Kentucky now includes a ceremony for laying wreaths at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historic Site in the same town as well as at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is, naturally, a key location for ceremonies on this day.

Beginning with the first wreath-laying at the Lincoln Memorial in 1922, the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) have united to continue the tradition. A wreath is laid in honor of the late President, a custom that has even been carried across at the graves of all the deceased American presidents on their respective birthdays. The 12th of February, 2009, was the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. To mark the bicentennial, an even more elaborate event was carried out. The U.S. Mint even released four new pennies of Lincoln style, the fronts remaining the same but the backs adorned with scenes symbolic to his life.

How to Celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday in the United States

Especially if you’re a history buff, you might want to take advantage of this holiday to learn more about American history and explore the event’s many festivities. Although Lincoln was not a perfect President when it came to some issues (including Native American rights), he certainly contributed significantly to equality’s development in the United States. Celebrating Lincoln’s birthday is a way to commemorate how far the country has come and to remember how far it has yet to go. If you are interested in participating in these festivities, here are some popular options across the country:

  • Lincoln Memorial: Located in the Capitol, this location is perhaps the most significant for celebrating Lincoln’s birthday with tradition.
  • Lincoln’s Tomb: If you’re near Springfield, Illinois, perhaps swing by and visit the President himself on his birthday.
  • Hodgenville, Kentucky: As mentioned, this town has a Historic Site with a longstanding wreath ceremony that might be worth checking out.

Finally, don’t forget the great many museums in cities everywhere with history to learn – and enjoy Lincoln’s Birthday!