In case you haven’t been following our blog (which is something you should totally do), or haven’t visited our Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages recently, you may have missed that we’ve been diving into all the holidays throughout the year and exploring a variety of holidays’ history and meaning.
By definition, a holiday is a day that’s set aside by custom (or by law) on which all normal activities are suspended or reduced. Holidays are intended to allow time to celebrate or commemorate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. We firmly believe that every day can be a holiday (sadly, you can’t get out of work or school on all of them). But to us, it’s important to keep holiday traditions alive by celebrating holiday magic everyday – whether it’s National Cheesecake Day, a holiday that originated in a different religion, or a federally recognized one. Each day brings with it something special and has the potential to become a cause of celebration and joy, or a quiet reflection and remembrance. And one holiday of great importance is just around the corner – Memorial Day.
The History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died serving the United States of America. It was born from a desire to honor the lives lost after the end of the Civil War in 1865. On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the republic, officially proclaimed this day of importance in his General Order No. 11.
Originally, the General designated the holiday to be recognized by the American people decorating resting places of the fallen soldiers with flowers on May 30th. However, there was a discourse between the southern and northern states related to officially recognizing the 30th of May as a day to honor the lost souls who fell on the battlefield.
This debate continued until after World War I, when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died fighting in any war. And in 1971, the holiday is now observed on the last Monday in May by almost every state. There’s even a rumor that General Logan chose the date because flowers would be blooming all across the country, so beautiful flowers would be available for decorating American soldiers’ final resting places.
An important part of Memorial Day history is the resolution passed in December 2000 – the National Moment of Remembrance. On this day at 3pm, Americans pause daily routines to remember and show respect for the lives lost defending our country with a moment of silence.
Memorial Day is an important holiday with a large meaning, and as citizens of this country – we have to celebrate the sacrifice and dedication of our veterans while making time to honor those who lost their lives for our freedom – providing us the privilege to celebrate their memory! To commemorate those important people and their selfless act of protecting our country, here are seven possible ways to spend your Memorial Day weekend.
Celebrating the Memorial Day Holiday
As with all holidays that fall on a Monday, the 3-day weekend is the perfect time for families to travel to nearby destinations, visit relatives out-of-town, try new restaurants, and experience new activities. The extra time allows us to remember fallen soldiers in a way that resonates with our families and what’s important to us personally. Some may choose to pack up their fishing or camping gear and spend a weekend connecting to nature, while others may simply spark up the barbecue and show off new grill tips and tricks to cherished loved ones – family, neighbors, and friends.
If you and your friends or family haven’t decided how to celebrate the importance of Memorial Day, sit back, relax, and let us guide you into the magical world we all live in all year long – with some holiday ideas and experiences!
7 Ideas for Memorial Day Weekend
1. Watch a Patriotic Movie
The art of storytelling has been passing down knowledge and wisdom for thousands of years. Works of literature, musical compositions, paintings, sculptures, and motion pictures have all become an integral part of our lives. So why don’t you, on this Memorial Day weekend, cuddle comfortably on a couch with a loved one, a pet, or just an amazingly soft blanket, and watch a movie depicting the life of a soldier. Observe a soldier’s physical and mental experiences and honor the lives lost by empathizing with their service. IMDB has a handy list that to help answer the “what should I watch” question that will inevitably pop in your head now.
2. DIY Project: Decorate with Red, White and Blue Décor
Do-It-Yourself is nothing new, as we have always made things with our own hands. One of the reasons why DIY is always fun and trendy is that it simply makes us feel good – and productive! Not only do DIY projects save money, but these feel-good ventures also help save the planet through upcycling and recycling. Being involved in the creation of different home production brings a sense of pride and gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd and decorate the way YOU want to! Still not excited about some DIY American flag-colored activities? Well, DIY projects also give you the opportunity to learn new skills. Or you could teach someone important to you - like your son or daughter how to do something that could become a tradition – passed down year after year! Peep our Pinterest – we curated a special board for this holiday to inspire that creative boost you need to start Memorial Day DIY projects.
3. Deliver Dessert to a Local Family
Desserts have been a cornerstone to meals around the world for literal centuries! The earliest recordings of these tasty, end-of-meal treats span to ancient Mesopotamia, ancient India, and other archaic civilizations. Desserts first existing to feed the “gods”, these delicious sweets have made their way into the meal plan of every household across America – from sea to shining sea. And we can totally understand why – they are delicious. So on this Memorial Day weekend, honor those who sacrificed their lives to protect America the beautiful by making your favorite dessert. But don’t stop there – share your magical, meaningful treat with a local soldiers’ family!
Looking to pocket a new dessert recipe? Head over to our Pinterest board made specifically for those post-meal goodies and spruce up your culinary knowledge this holiday weekend! And if you feel like it, reach out on our social media channels to let us know how it went – we accept pictures, testimonials and if you feel like it – samples!
4. Create Patriotic Chalk Art
Chalk brings up sweet memories from our youth. Remember those days spent outside in the sun, crouching and expressing yourself with your favorite bucket full of colors and the rough feel of concrete against your skin? Remember how fun it was when the kids from the neighborhood used to gather and draw all sorts of forms and shapes, sometimes even leaving interpretation more to the imagination than something else? Those were the days and they were pretty glorious! So why not tap into your inner child or connect with the children in your world to have fun like this once again? Use red, white, and blue colors to show your respect and honor those no longer with us. Draw an American flag or a soldier while explaining the importance of Memorial Day to your kiddos. Show them your practiced and polished techniques, and most importantly – create a magical moment. Because those are the memories that will last a lifetime. And it’s important to create a meaningful moment on Memorial Day weekend – a moment they will vividly remember and lovingly look back to when they grow up.
5. Write a Letter to Soldiers and their Families
We get it – chalk and drawing and concrete isn’t for everyone! If you’re not a big fan of outside art, we have an alternative just for you. A Million Thanks, a nonprofit organization that provides support and appreciation to our active veteran military men and women, is a way for you to create cherished family memories and show your patriotic spirit and appreciation for American soldiers by sending a letter to soldiers and their families. Whether it’s a drawing, a poem you, your child, parent, or spouse composed, we are sure your mail will brighten a soldier’s day. It’s important for us to honor their service by remembering small acts of random kindness can really mean the world to someone. For more information on how to get involved, check out A Million Thanks’ website. If you end up going through with this suggestion of ours, we would be more than happy to hear about it – whether you comment here, send us an e-mail, or contact us on our social media! Share your experience!
6. Brush up on Your Culinary Skills
Summer is rapidly approaching, and with the weather getting warmer and warmer, it’s time to scour the garage for that BBQ grill you put there last autumn just before the cold wave hit (unless you’re from Texas, and in that case, just walk out on the patio and fire it up). Be honest – is summer even summer without the subtle smell of charcoal-y smoke? And on the topic of barbeque, there are so (soooooooo) many reasons why you should dust off the kit that made you into the grilling legend you are today (or at least that your apron says you are). BBQing your favorite Memorial Day weekend foods helps preserve key ingredients – whether it’s meats or veggies, there are virtually endless meal options. Looking for a non-traditional twist to feed your family while memorializing those who served our country? Try grilling a pizza, quesadillas, or even a cake. And in case you need some Grill Master inspiration, you got it – we’ve got you covered. Check out these Pinterest boards for meatatarians, vegetarians and vegans. We made sure to collect only the most mouth-watering and drool inducing recipes there are.
7. Honor the Holiday
There are many, many other ways to do honor the holiday. Whether it’s by shopping at a veteran-owned business, watching the Memorial Day concert, brushing up on American history, or simply taking a moment of silence at 3pm, this is one of the important holidays in our country. It carries centuries’ long tradition and the utmost relevance to our country’s foundation – as it still does today. And it will continue doing so in the future. So regardless of whether you’ll be outside or inside, spending time with family and friends, or enjoying a day entirely for yourself, don’t lose sight of the reason why you’re celebrating this 3-day weekend. Don’t forget about the heroes who gave their lives to protect our nation. Countless brave women and men gave their lives so America can be what it is today. And it’s up to us – as Americans – to ensure the sacrifices they made were not in vain. Because this is what creating holiday magic is all about – remembering our past, honoring those who created it, and being a better person each day – because every day can be a holiday!
We hope you enjoyed our list of activities to do on this Memorial Day as much as we enjoyed creating it. No matter how you celebrate Memorial Day – drawing on the sidewalk or inside snuggled up in your favorite PJs, we sincerely hope you’ll have the most magical holiday remembering those who gave us this moment to celebrate. And if you can make someone else’s day a bit better just by being you and doing what you do best – go ahead and spread that sparkle and positivity. Because that’s what holidays are all about!