The first instinct upon hearing “Memorial Day” is to jump in the air for a long weekend, barbques, patriotic decor, and overall glee (and maybe you’re excited about getting a new mattress – no shaming here)
But it seems to be more and more a holiday centered around the beginnings of summer rather than commemorating the lives lost in battles. And don’t get me wrong, I love a good long weekend celebrating summer….
Well, I thought it would be a nice idea to include a little history lesson before I spill the beans on all my favorite memorial day celebration traditions and weekend sales! I love shopping good sales (duh) but I also think the history of how exactly memorial day started is even more important! If you’re not into learning, just skip these sections below.
The Origins of Memorial Day
Memorial Days origins go back to the American Civil War and was informally known as “Decoration Day”. The American Civil War produced the largest war fatality number on American soil. Countless Union and Confederate soldiers perished in battle, among others. During the war graves were decorated by women with flowers. The tradition quickly caught on.
One of the first observances of decoration day was on April 25, 1866 when a group of women decorated confederate graves near where the battle of Shiloh was. The story goes that they had felt bad for the Union side not being decorated and had placed flowers on their graves too. Although the exact place of the first “decoration day” isn’t clear, groups of freed slaves and union families also practiced honoring their departed by decorating tombstones. The first major celebration took place in Charleston, South Carolina – complete with a parade and decorations honoring loved ones. Soon the official “Decoration Day” would be declared by the government on May 30th – when the spring flowers would be at their finest bloom. That year, an official commemoration took place at Arlington National Cemetery, with over 5,000 people in attendance.
So those are the origins of Memorial Day, but the story doesn’t end there. There was even some controversy on when the official date of this holiday would be. Many were fearful Americans would associate Memorial Day with the beginning of summer instead of honoring loved ones lost in battle – kind of the sense i am getting in this day and age.
Memorial Day as we know it wasn’t declared a federal holiday until 1971 when the United Sates was in the Vietnam War. This holiday marked the memory of all Americans who have died in battle – and not just the civil war or World War I.
Fun fact: To this day many states have their own versions of Memorial Day celebrations. A few southern states do it on different days to commemorate confederate soldiers lost in battle.
Host A Memorable Memorial Day
So, if you’re anything like me, you love hosting and entertaining! I am such a big fan of thinking up recipes, decor ideas, and gathering little details here and there. Memorial Day is a wonderful holiday and I think we can achieve a good mix of remembrance and still enjoy a lovely day off. Here are my few favorite roundups for a memorable Memorial Day gathering.
* These adorable DIY Paper Stars would make a great addition to decorating your space. I know they’re meant for the 4th of July but I think it would work really well if you left them up until the 4th!
*Why not bring florals into your party decor? This cute DIY floral arrangement looks like so much fun and is beautiful!
*Check out this DIY Fabric Flag that can be done using scraps of fabric you might have laying around the house. If you don’t have any of these fabrics I would definitely hit up some garage sales – last week we got fabric for 50 cents!
*This free printable would be great on the doorway while greeting guests or just a small reminder – framed inside your home.
*I really can’t wait to make this – in fact, I’m not even waiting for Memorial Day. Check out this Frito Corn Salad recipe!
*Loaded Baked Potato Salad is a refreshing appetizer! I imagine this will go pretty fast too.
*Check out this Red, White, and Blue Mason Jar Salad with Feta and Fruit. This recipe is a great American twist on a Mediterranean dish.
*Make this CRACK DIP and your guests will go wild. It’s called Crack Dip for a reason, people = it’s delicious!! I’ve made this many time and have probably finished it by myself before guests got to it.
*This 50 Stars Barbecue Chicken deserves 50 stars. Guests will love this easy to make main course!
*Or maybe you’d like more riparian entertainments (if you’d don’t get this, you need to watch Keeping Up Appearances). Try these Salmon Meatballs with Avocado Sauce for a quick and easy meal! Serve them on a festive platter and guests can pick them up as they please.
*Brown Sugar BBQ Wings sound incredibly delicious for a Memorial Day celebration! My family really loves wings (I’m not to keen on them). So this is a great family friendly recipe.
*Red, White, and Blue Strawberry Cheesecake Bites are a perfect patriotic and delicious dessert idea! Check out the recipe here.
*Here’s another colorful recipe: this Fruit Flag Dessert is really easy to put together and you’ll only need to make a quick trip to the grocery store to put this together. Presentation is everything in this recipe.
*If you are a serious baker, you may want to try this Patriotic Rose Cake – video tutorial included!
*Or if you’re a no fuss person, these patriotic dipped ice cream cones are easy peasy.
*You’ll want a refreshing summer drink as your guests mingle outside. Check out this Southern Style Sweet Tea recipe and take your shot at perfecting it to your taste.
*Or check out this recipe for Strawberry Blueberry Limeade. This sounds extra refreshing!
*Love blueberries? Here’s some more Blueberry Lemonade. May be a touch too much blueberry for me – but it’s definitely a cute idea.
*Maybe you’re more old fashioned (like me) – set up a Coca Cola Bar for an ode to the 50’s! I could totally imagine an americana coca cola bar set up outside.
Just want to take a moment to remember the people that have lost their lives protecting our country, defending our homeland, and giving us the freedom and rights we have today.
I hope you enjoyed this quick and fun guide, and also learned something new! Let me know what you think!