April 13, 2017

#05-030: Memorial Day and Summer

tombstones stand row on row, with a small American flag planted in front of each
Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day

Note: Traditionally, America's "summer social season" (not summer itself) began on Memorial Day at the end of May and ended with Labor Day at the start of September.

Get Ready: When do you recognize the sacrifices of those who died for your country? What do you do to recognize their importance?

As mentioned Lesson #05-028 ("MAYDAY!"), the first day of May is celebrated as Labor Day in many countries.

However, in the U.S., Labor Day is the first Monday in September. Like the other ones in May, it honors the contributions made by workers to the well-being of the country. Unlike that one, however, it comes near the end of the summer, the most productive season of the year.

In fact--as also mentioned in that article--the "summer season" in the northeastern U.S. for many years was marked, not by astronomical occurrences, but by two somewhat arbitrary holidays: Memorial Day--the last Monday in May--and America's iteration of Labor Day.


"Summer," in this case, was a social season, marked by particular events: picnics and barbecues; baseball, boating, and other outdoor activities curtailed by the harsh New England winters; trips to the beach; and family reunions, as travel is easier after the winter months.

Also mentioned previously were some fashion tips. In winter months, men wore felt hats, not only for fashion, but to ward off the cold. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, straw hats were worn, to deal with the heat. Likewise, clothes of darker materials--which absorb heat--were worn in winter, and white was worn in summer to reflect the sun's rays. Today such strictures seem old-fashioned.


On Memorial Day itself, Americans remember the fallen soldiers who served their country and "gave the last full measure of devotion," as Abraham Lincoln put it in his "Gettysburg Address." One way this is done is to visit cemeteries and decorate the graves of those victims of war.

In fact, from 1866, when it started in the South (it went nationwide in 1868) until after World War II, it was most often called "Decoration Day." It was celebrated on May 30, whatever day of the week it fell on. The date was chosen partly because there had been no particular battle on that day during the Civil War, and thus there was no partisan preference. It may also have been set at that time of year because of the abundance of flowers available.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. absorb
  2. arbitrary
  3. astronomical
  4. curtailed
  5. fallen
  6. iteration
  7. partisan
  8. reunions
  9. strictures
  10. ward off

  1. restrictions; limitations
  2. repel; drive away
  3. soak up; take in
  4. a different form or version of something
  5. decided with no definite reason
  6. regarding the stars, planets, etc.
  7. reduced; diminished
  8. in this case, killed
  9. taking one side in a conflict
  10. events where people gather again

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 13, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. e; 3. f; 4. g; 5. h; 6. d; 7. i; 8. j; 9. a; 10. b