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Presidents Day is Washington's Birthday on Wall Street

I know I attended school in what educators call the Dark Ages — before the Internet. Still, there are some matters that drive me to distraction. I saw a reference to the stock market being closed in observance of Washington's birthday. Well, I know we no longer celebrate Washington's birthday, but I remember making cherry pies and all that every Feb. 22. So why blame Monday's closure on Washington when everyone else was carrying on about President's Day?

— Kate J., Medford

To put things as simply as possible, The New York Stock Exchange was closed for business on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The NYSE, the nation's largest stock exchange, and Nasdaq were closed, along with banks and government offices, who were celebrating President's Day.

Congress declared George Washington's birthday a federal holiday in 1879. But Congress couldn't leave well enough alone. In 1968, the Monday Holiday Law was enacted, shifting our commemoration of Washington's birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February — thereby eliminating the possibility of ever celebrating Washington's birthday on his birthday.

However, neither the 1968 law nor any subsequent law changed the name of the holiday from Washington's Birthday to President's Day, according to the NYSE's website.

"Although the third Monday in February has become popularly known as President's Day, the NYSE's designation of Washington's Birthday as an Exchange holiday (Rule 51) follows the form of the federal holiday outlined above (section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code)."

In case you are wondering, the stock market is also closed on New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. With July 4th falling on Saturday this year, the markets will take off July 3. The markets will close three hours early on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Christmas Eve. 

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