It's Presidents Day: The kids are off school, the grown-ups are off work and the stores are promoting big sales with patriotic themes.
But whom, exactly, are we celebrating?
According to the federal government, today isn't Presidents Day at all. There is no such thing. Today is Washington's Birthday, even though his real birthday is Feb. 22. And it doesn't have anything to do with Abraham Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12.
Washington's Birthday was established as a holiday in 1880, and at first it was celebrated on George Washington's actual birthday. But according to the National Archives, Congress voted in 1968 to shift it to the third Monday in February. The result: federal workers got a three-day weekend.
As for Lincoln's birthday, it never achieved federal holiday status (he was rather controversial in the South). California, however, traditionally celebrates holidays for both men. That explains why the kids had the day off last Monday, too.
The folks at Mount Vernon Memorial Park in Fair Oaks have dispensed with the Presidents Day label altogether, preferring to take a more inclusive approach. Their annual living history event called American Heritage Day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Greenback Lane cemetery. Admission is free, and you're encouraged to dress the part.
Mary Lynne Vellinga
IN THE NEWS
Oscar event raises money for AIDS
The Capital City AIDS Fund hosts Oscar Night Sacramento at the Hyatt Regency during the award show's broadcast on Sunday. Doors to the red-carpet event, which also features live entertainment, open at 4 p.m.
Behind the news: Founded in 1994, the organization has raised more than $2 million for HIV/AIDS nonprofits in Sacramento. For its annual Oscar gala, the Hyatt's ballroom will sport a nightclub-style setting with 20 television screens for watching the show.
Info: For ticket information and more, visit www.capcityaidsfund.org.
Gingrich to court California Republicans
Newt Gingrich is the featured speaker Saturday at this weekend's California Republican Convention, which kicks off Friday at the Hyatt San Francisco Airport Hotel in Burlingame.
Behind the news: The former House speaker, who is trying to reclaim a spot as a top GOP presidential contender, has been in the state raising money for his campaign.
Stay informed: Look for updates at www.capitolalert.com.
Supervisors want to improve recycling sites
At a 2 p.m. meeting Wednesday at 700 H St., Sacramento County supervisors will consider regulations to address complaints about the noise and appearance of recycling centers.
Info: Look for updates on www.sacbee.com.
Forum examines rehabilitating vacant lots
Land-use experts, environmentalists, elected officials and others will take part in a forum on the rehabilitation of "brownfield" sites and other vacant lots throughout Sacramento from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Sacramento Food Bank & Community Services, 3333 Third Ave. The event is sponsored by Ubuntu Green and the Coalition on Regional Equity/Sacramento Housing Alliance.
Info: Call the Sacramento Housing Alliance for more information, (916) 455-4900.
GOP presidential hopefuls face off
In a debate sponsored by CNN and the Arizona Republican Party, candidates for the GOP presidential nomination take the stage in Phoenix on Wednesday, nearly a week before Arizona voters go to the polls Feb. 28.
Info: Check for broadcast times or live streaming at www.live.cnn.com
Murder trials on docket
Ten murder cases are scheduled for trial this week in Sacramento Superior Court. Ka Yang, accused of microwaving her baby to death last year, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday. The case against Kelvin Peterson and Bernard Reed, on trial in the 2010 death of Tania Gurskiy, a 27-year-old clerk shot in a pharmacy robbery, may start Thursday. Meanwhile, the murder retrial of Tamara Bassett, accused of killing 25-year-old Alison Joelle Freeseha in an April 2009 shooting at an Elk Grove party that also left three men seriously injured, is already under way.
Info: Check for updates on The Bee's crime blog, www.sacbee.com/sacto911.
AT THE CAPITOL
Health care proposals under the microscope
On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committee will hold the second in a series of hearings on policy changes proposed in Gov. Jerry Brown's budget. The hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., focuses on long-term and Medi-Cal managed care.
Info: Listen to a live feed at sbud.senate.ca.gov/agenda
Carnaval sambas into midtown
The Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento presents Carnaval 2012, featuring live Afro-Brazilian band Brasil Brazil Show from Los Angeles. The party begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Old McCulley Bros. Auto Building, 1616 I St. Revelers can samba with the dancers from Mistura Brasileira Samba Dance Company.
Info: Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at door. www.braziliancentersac.org/ carnaval.html
Master gardeners share knowledge
Sacramento County master gardeners will demonstrate how to prune shrubs and dormant fruit trees as well as how to groom ornamental grasses, start a compost pile and set up a worm bin from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The free Open Garden Day takes place at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, Fair Oaks Park, 11549 Fair Oaks Blvd. Got a question? These folks have answers. Bring examples of pests or problem plant material (sealed inside a plastic bag) for diagnosis.
Info: (916) 875-6913 or http://cesacramento.ucdavis. edu
Designers in Fashion Week spotlight
Sacramento Fashion Week kicks off Tuesday, bringing workshops on design, modeling and makeup to various locations in the city. The week culminates with "designer showcase" events Friday and Saturday at the Elks Tower Ballroom
Info: Go to www.sacfashion week.com for event times and ticket information.
UOP's featured speaker is 'Milk' screenwriter
Dustin Lance Black, whose script for "Milk" won the Academy Award for best original screenplay in 2008, will be the featured speaker at a conference on gay and lesbian issues at the University of the Pacific in Stockton at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Black's presentation is open to the public.
Info: Go to http//lgbtqia.pacific.edu for details.
Smokin' hot racing returns to Daytona
The Daytona 500, NASCAR's Super Bowl and the official opener of its season, rolls into Florida on Sunday. The race marks the Sprint Cup debut of Danica Patrick.
Watch: Fox will telecast the race at 9 a.m.
NBA All-Stars light up Orlando
Also in Florida, the NBA All-Star Game showcases the offensive prowess of the league's best players. Sunday's 3 p.m. game culminates three days of All-Star festivities.
Watch: TNT will telecast the Rising Stars Challenge at 6 p.m. Friday; All-Star Saturday Night (including the dunk competition) at 5 p.m. Saturday; and Sunday's game.
Oscars extravaganza to shine in Hollywood Will a silent film win the top prize at the 84th Academy Awards? Check to see if "The Artist," or one of the other eight movies nominated for best picture, will win top honors Sunday. Billy Crystal will host the festivities.
Watch: ABC will telecast the event beginning at 4 p.m.