Saturday, February 12, 2011

The 1950 Holiday Schedule

“Now Shirl and I are sitting here discussing the coming weekend.  Unexpected complications have arisen.  It seems we have Monday off because of Lincoln’s Birthday.”
                                                                        June Anderson
                                                                        Letter to Art Price, Feb. 6, 1950

While Lincoln’s Birthday was never a federal holiday, many states used to formally celebrate it as a holiday on Lincoln’s actual birth date, February 12.  In 1950, Lincoln’s Birthday actually fell on Sunday but June’s school, Traphagen School of Fashion, chose to observe it by closing on Monday, February 13.

Coming right after Lincoln’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day arrived on Tuesday, February 14, 1950.  Valentine’s Day has never been an official holiday either.  It has ancient European roots and seems to be traditionally associated with the February 14 date, with possible references to valentines extending back to before the middle ages.  Hallmark issued the first manufactured Valentine’s Day cards in 1915 and they were a huge hit.  By 1950, there were many greeting card companies publishing Valentine’s Day cards.  June’s card to Art was a Gibson, not a Hallmark.

Screen capture from
Holiday Inn (1942).
Washington’s Birthday is the only federal holiday of the three February dates.  In 1950, it was celebrated on Washington’s actual birth date, February 22 (a Wednesday that year).  The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, passed in 1968, moved the official celebration of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February (where it always falls between Lincoln’s and Washington’s actual birthdays).  While Washington’s Birthday remains the official federal designation, it became more commonly known as Presidents Day over the years, particularly following a heavy advertising push in the mid-1980s.

Getting back to 1950:  For June and Art, the holidays came fast and furious in February.  First, Lincoln’s Birthday on Sunday, February 12, then Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, February 14, and finally Washington’s Birthday on Wednesday, February 22.

(Tomorrow – announcing a week in support of film preservation!)

© 2011 Lee Price

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