Sometimes the reasons that holidays are celebrated become forgotten over the years. We get so caught up in a day off from our ordinary responsibilities that we lose the sense of what the holiday was created to honor.
The primary example that comes to my mind is Christmas. Christians invented Christmas to honor the birth of Jesus. No one knows the exact day Jesus was born. We do know that the birth occurred in Jerusalem, far from the snow-covered scenes that pop into the minds of most Americans these days.
Attending church, sacred music in the air, exchanging gifts, and a feast of thanksgiving were some of the main elements of the celebration early on.
If we fast-forward to 2018, we realize that we start being reminded of the approach of Dec. 25 right after Halloween. For some of us, the retail aspects of the holiday have become what it’s all about.
Maybe a short history lesson is in order as Memorial Day approaches. The reason many of us have a day off from our daily routines is to honor those who gave their lives fighting for freedom for all Americans.
The first Memorial Day was celebrated on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, New York to honor the memories of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Businesses were closed. The graves of soldiers were tidied up and decorated. The movement gained momentum, and spread across the country. The South honored the Confederate soldiers lost to the “War Between the States” on a different day.
By the end of World War I most people celebrated at the same time. In 1971 an act of congress officially brought everyone together when the last Monday in May was declared a national holiday to honor all those lost to armed conflict — well over a million Americans, starting with the Civil War.
If the weather’s nice, a lot of us will put together a picnic on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. It’s fitting for me to share a family recipe in honor and memory of my Uncle Richard Clark and all the others whose names I don’t know.
NANNA’S POTATO SALAD
3-4 large potatoes, pared and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped fine
3/4 cup celery, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped coarsely
Boil potatoes in salted water. Drain.
In a large mixing bowl, mix potatoes, onion, apple, celery and egg. Toss until mixed.
In a small bowl, mix relish, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables. Fold to mix.
Eat right away at room temperature or keep chilled until served.
Serves six to eight.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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