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Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is Hannibal Hamlin?

Hannibal Hamlin at one time was best known as Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president. He did not play a significant role in the administration and was not close to Lincoln. 
After he was replaced by Andrew Johnson for Lincoln’s second term, Hamlin decided that the best way to connect with the American people was not through leadership or laws, but through gift giving. Thus, Hannibal Hamlin started a workshop in the frozen north of Bangor, Maine, where he made gifts for all the people of the country who had been good that year. 
Soon, the country grew so big, Hannibal Hamlin couldn’t do it on his own, so he was joined by other former vice presidents - George Clinton (not the same one who did Parliament Funkadelic, but Thomas Jefferson’s second VP) , Elbridge Gerry, Schuyler Colfax (who had a great beard), Garret Hobart, Spiro Agnew, and Dan Quayle. Hannibal Hamlin and his Hamlinions, as the band became known, travel across the country every Presidents’ Day Eve and deliver gifts, but remember to be nice - they only bring them to those who have been good this year!

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Is Presidents' Day secular or religious?

This is a common question. Some people celebrate Presidents’ Day in a more religious fashion– going to services at their local city halls, listening to Austrian boy choirs perform presidential hymns with gravitas, and making this a special time to give thanks for George Washington and all he sacrificed to build this country. 
However, the secular tradition of Presidents’ Day is more predominant in modern times. This tradition includes donning presidential attire, decking the halls with red, white, and blue, joining in the popular dance craze “The Cherry Tree Chop,” and opening gifts from Hannibal Hamlin. Presidents’ Day is most commonly a holiday spent with friends and family mingling, singing, and generally making merry.

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What are traditional Presidents' Day foods?

Though every group of people celebrates Presidents’ Day differently, the culinary tradition of the holiday is rich and vibrant. Some classics of the Presidents’ Day feast include:

  • Cherry Pie (to celebrate George Washington chopping down the cherry tree)

  • Election Cake, an old traditional recipe for a pastry that was given out to voters.

  • Any red, white, and blue fare, traditionally food decorated with strawberries, blueberries, and a vanilla cream or frosting.

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What are common Presidents' Day traditions?

On Presidents’ Day, we most importantly take a break from work, school, or whatever other stressors are happening in our lives, and celebrate with those we love. 
Classically, people decorate their homes for the festivities with red, white, and blue paraphernalia, including lights, paper chains, banners, and wreaths. 
Prior to the day, people send Presidents’ Day cards to friends and family members, wishing them good tidings for a joyous holiday.
On Presidents’ Day Eve, everyone prepares for Hannibal Hamlin to come and bring gifts to all the good people. But remember, if you’ve been naughty, he may leave you a subpoena!
On the holiday, people gather at parties, often in attire akin to former presidents, to sing Presidents’ Day carols, partake of the presidential feast, exchange presidential trivia and lore, and generally make merry.

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When is Presidents' Day?

This year (2022), Presidents' Day is Monday, February 21st.
Presidents' Day is always on the third Monday in February. Though it was initially celebrated on Washington's Birthday (February 22), in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill.

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What constitutes traditional Presidents' Day lore?

The most influential part of Presidents’ Day lore is the story of Hannibal Hamlin, former vice president who brings gifts to those who have been good this year.
Other celebrated characters of the holiday include:
Harry the Hairy Eagle, a bald eagle who was anything but bald
Mooly Wooly and Pauline, notable cows and presidential pets of William Taft

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