Presidents Day More About Sales Than Reflection

For some lucky folks, Presidents Day is a holiday from work. But for just about everyone, it’s a day to be lured with discounts from a large variety of businesses. 

Costco and PetSmart are getting on the sales bandwagon this year. Costco sent an email to its customer list promoting a savings on mattress purchases. PetSmart sent an email to its customer list offering a 25% discount for online-only sales over the long weekend. 

“Many businesses jumped at the opportunity to use the three-day weekend as a means to draw customers with Presidents Day sales and bargain at stores across the country,” according to USA Today, which explores the question of “why are we seeing all these ads for car and furniture sales on TV?”



For some historians, the holiday has lost all discernible meaning.

“The meaning of Presidents Day has changed dramatically, from being mostly unremarkable and filled with work for Washington in the 1700s to the consumerism bonanza it has become today,” according to The Associated Press.

Consumerism around the holiday started much earlier than you might think. 

Washington was very aware of his inaugural role as president but he didn’t want to be honored like a king, said Seth Bruggeman, a history professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Still Bruggeman said, "a market for Washington memorabilia sprang up almost immediately after his death in 1799 at age 67, with people snapping up pottery and reproductions of etchings portraying him as a divine figure going off into heaven,” according to the AP.

Washington and the other Founding Fathers “would have been deeply worried” by how the holiday has been taken over by commercial and private interests, Bruggeman adds.

Even Amazon has gotten in on today’s hype, with the online retailer offering its Prime members a plethora of sales, according toTravel + Leisure, which curated a list of the 53 best deals worth shopping.

Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Nordstrom and Sephora are also offering big sales, according to Yahoo Life, which compiled a long list of sales from a variety of companies including all of the mattress retailers offering deals.  CNET has also curated a list of mattress sales.

In an original take on the sales, if you share a first name with a U.S. president or first lady you can buy one sandwich and get one free at Firehouse Subs for Presidents Day, according to anotherUSA Today story about restaurant and fast food specials related to the holiday. 

It’s not all about discounts, of course. 

“Presidents Day occurs at a crucial moment this year, with the presidency on the cusp of crisis as we inexorably shuffle toward a rematch between the incumbent and his predecessor,” according to an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. “It’s the sort of contest we haven’t seen since the 19th century, and judging by public opinion of President Biden and former President Trump, most Americans would have preferred to keep it that way.”

The history professors who penned the story shared the third installment of the Presidential Greatness Project, a poll of presidential experts, which shows that scholars don’t share American voters’ roughly equal distaste for both candidates.

“Biden, in fact, makes his debut in our rankings at No. 14, putting him in the top third of American presidents,” according to the opinion story. “Trump, meanwhile, maintains the position he held six years ago: dead last, trailing such historically calamitous chief executives as James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson. … Hallowed leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George Washington consistently lead the list.” 

It might be less divisive to keep politics out of it and just focus on the mattress sales. 

2 comments about "Presidents Day More About Sales Than Reflection".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, February 19, 2024 at 12:58 p.m.

    The founding fathers would be deeply worried and concerned...until one of them needed a new mattress on this holiday :)

  2. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost replied, February 19, 2024 at 1:02 p.m.

    Indeed, lol. :)

Next story loading loading..