Lincoln’s Birthday is the annual commemoration of the birth anniversary of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who was born on February 12, 1809.

Some States have floating holiday for this occasion and marks the actual birth date of Lincoln, while some other States club the day with Washington’s birthday that also falls on the same month and with Presidents’ Day celebrations as per the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

Dates that would commemorate Lincoln’s Birthday in the next five years:

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. This actual day is commemorated as a public holiday in only some states of the United States, namely, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York. In these States, the day is observed as a State holiday.

Some States like Colorado, Montana and Utah club the celebrations with that of Washington’s Birthday that also falls in the month of February. Other States club the celebrations with that of Presidents’ Day. The dates of commemoration in such cases are mentioned below –

  • In 2014, Lincoln’s Birthday is on Monday, February 17.
  • In 2015, Lincoln’s Birthday is on Monday, February 16.
  • In 2016, Lincoln’s Birthday is on Monday, February 15.
  • In 2017, Lincoln’s Birthday is on Monday, February 20.
  • In 2018, Lincoln’s Birthday is on Monday, February 19.

History:

  • The earliest recorded birthday celebration of Lincoln is believed to have been in Buffalo, New York, in the year 1874. In the city of Buffalo Julius Francis a druggist by profession felt that the assassinated President of the United States should be given proper tribute on his birthday. He made it a mission of his life to promote the day to be a legal holiday, and he diligently worked towards it all his life till he died in 1881. It was him who had sent repeated petitions to the Congress to establish Lincoln’s Birthday to be a legal holiday.
  • Since 1922, the Lincoln’s Birthday observances started to be organized by a Committee formed for the purpose known as the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee. This Committee was aided by the by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS).
  • Since the 19th Century Lincoln’s Birthday came to be celebrated especially also by the African American communities in the United States, and the month of February has since been known as the Black History Month. This is because on the 14th day of the month of February Frederick Douglass was also born. Frederick Douglass championed the cause of slave abolition and is highly revered by the African Americans.
  • Since 1926, the renowned historian Carter G. Woodson along with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History had worked towards establishing the second week of February as the "Negro History Week". But by the 1970s the Negro History Week was expanded to establish the Black History Month.

Public Life:

Non-essential Government departments do not function on this day, the day being dependent on when the occasion is commemorated in the State.  Till the 1980s corporate businesses used to remain closed on this day. However after then the retailers have started promoting various sales schemes during this time clubbing with Presidents’ Day. Even delivery services operate in full swing on this day except the United States Postal Service which may not operate in some States. Operation of public transport system varies from place to place – in some places it may be erratic, while at others pretty regular. Many universities and colleges continue with their regular schedule, while some others give a week long mid winter recess during this time, depending on the rules of the school district.

Observances:

To commemorate Lincoln’s Birthday, many concerts and re-enactment shows are organized. At the Lincoln Memorial situated in Washington DC, every year on February 12th a ceremony is organized where wreath is laid and the Gettysburg Address, the famous speech by Lincoln that was delivered during the American Civil War, is read. A wreath is also laid at the tomb of Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. Large scale events are planned by institutions that have Lincoln’s name associated with them – namely, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Indiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail, etc. The Republican Party often hosts a fund raiser dinner on this day since Lincoln was the country’s first Republican President.


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