Quick Guide to Memorial Holidays
Every culture commemorates death in different ways and on different dates. Although mourning can and does happen on any day out of the year, certain dates are set aside as periods of national bereavement and cultural celebrations. Depending on where you live and what your beliefs regarding the afterlife are, you may find this list of memorial holidays helpful.
- Memorial Day: Designated as the last Monday in May, this day is a U.S. national holiday set aside to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces.
- Veterans Day: Similar to Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day falls on November 11 of every year. It celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, regardless of whether or not they died during duty.
- Remembrance Day: Celebrated by the British Commonwealth, this holiday is the equivalent of Veterans Day, set aside to commemorate those who served in the First World War.
- Presidents Day: The third Monday in February, this U.S. holiday is technically set aside for the commemoration of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
- Flag Day: Falling on the 14th of June, this holiday usually finds cemeteries awash in U.S. flags, particularly in areas where fallen service members and veterans are buried.
- Easter: Easter holds a special place for many Christian celebrations, and many cemeteries and funeral homes have ceremonies on the morning of Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
- Yom HaShoah: This Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in Israel and in many Jewish communities around the world. Held in spring, celebrations include lighting candles and holding special mourning commemorations.
- El Dia de Los Muertos: This traditional Mexican holiday, also known as the Day of the Dead, falls in early November (November 1 or November 2, depending on whether it is celebrated as All Saints Day or All Souls Day). It is a time for family and friends, particularly those in Catholic or Hispanic cultures, to pay their respects to loved ones who have died.
Because many of these days are federal holidays, cemeteries may or may not be open to visitors at that time. Always be sure to contact a cemetery in advance before you plan a visit so that you are not greeted with closed gates during what should be a celebratory time.