Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.
The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.
Always clean from top to bottom. Gravity carries dust down onto lower surfaces.
With the children back into school, everyone is looking for easy dinner options, with easy clean up. What’s easier than a foil packet dinner? Foil packet dinners have small prep times with little to no clean up. Foil packet dinners can be cooked in the oven or even on the grill. Here are some foil packet recipes to try.
Grilled Parmesan-Ranch Chicken Foil Packs
Prep Time 45 min
Total Time 45 min
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 to 5 oz each)
1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic-herb blend
1/2 cup reduced-fat ranch dressing
1/4 cup water
2 cups quartered small red potatoes
1 cup ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18×12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with garlic-herb blend; place 1 breast on each sheet of foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the dressing over each breast.
2. In medium bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup dressing and the water. Stir in potatoes, carrots and green beans. Divide vegetables among chicken breasts. Sprinkle with cheese.
3. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
4. Place packets on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 minutes. Rotate packets 1/2 turn; cook 5 to 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender and juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).
5. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape.
Low Country Shrimp Foil Packs
Prep Time 25 min
Total Time 40 min
1 lb small red potatoes, halved
4 pieces frozen mini corn on the cob, thawed, cut in half
1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18×12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Place potatoes in microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Add corn to potatoes; drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning; mix until evenly coated. Place shrimp in medium bowl; toss with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and remaining 1 teaspoon seasoning; mix until evenly coated.
3. Place equal amount of sausage on center of each sheet of foil. Dividing evenly, arrange potato and corn mixture around sausage. Divide shrimp evenly over sausage. Squeeze 1 wedge of lemon over each pack.
4. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
5. Place packs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 6 minutes. Rotate packs 1/2 turn; cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until shrimp are pink and sausage is heated through. Remove packs from grill, cut large X across top of each pack. Carefully fold back foil; sprinkle with parsley, and top with remaining lemon wedges
1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 6 (18×10-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix beef, dry soup mix, egg, milk and bread crumbs. Shape into 6 loaves, 4×2 1/2×1 inch. Place 1 loaf on each foil sheet; top each with about 1 tablespoon of the ketchup. Place about 1/2 cup potatoes and 1/2 cup carrots around each loaf.
2. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
3. Place packets on grill. Cover grill; cook over medium heat 25 to 30 minutes, rotating packets 1/2 turn after 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape. Garnish with parsley.
Grilled Beef Fajita Packs
Prep Time 20 min
Total Time 40 min
1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 package (1.25 oz) fajita seasoning mix
1/3 cup water
8 Old El Paso™ flour tortillas for soft tacos & fajitas (from 10.5-oz package)
3/4 cup Old El Paso™ Thick ‘n Chunky salsa, if desired
3/4 cup sour cream, if desired
1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (20×18-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. In large bowl, mix beef, bell peppers, onion, seasoning mix and water.
2. Place 1/4 of beef mixture on center of each foil sheet. Bring up 2 sides of foil over beef mixture so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
3. Place packets on grill over low heat. Cover grill; cook 13 to 18 minutes, rotating packets 1/2 turn after about 6 minutes, until beef is cooked to desired doneness and peppers are tender.
4. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape. Serve beef mixture with tortillas, salsa and sour cream.
1 medium lemon, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Spray four 18×12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil with cooking spray.
2. Mix rice and broth in medium bowl. Let stand about 5 minutes or until most of broth is absorbed. Stir in carrots.
3. Place salmon fillet on center of each foil piece. Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning salt and salt; top with chives. Arrange lemon slices over salmon. Spoon rice mixture around each fillet. Fold foil over salmon and rice so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.
4. Cover and grill packets 4 to 6 inches from low heat 11 to 14 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Place packets on plates. Cut large X across top of each packet; fold back foil.
Cleaning Tip – Ovens
For light soil on an oven door, use dishwashing liquid or a mild all-purpose detergent and hot water. Do not use an abrasive powder or an abrasive pad or steel wool. Oven shelves are usually too large to fit in the dishwasher; instead hand wash in the sink or the bathtub. Always check the manufacturer’s care manual before you begin. The type of oven you own will determine how you clean it.
Self-cleaning ovens – These ovens will turn spills into a powdery, gray-ash residue that you wipe off with a damp cloth at the end of the cycle. Ventilate the kitchen during the cleaning cycle to reduce smoke and fumes in the room. If vaporized soil leaks through, use the mildest nonabrasive cleaner to scrub the oven’s door seal. Avoid scrubbing the gasket itself. Never use commercial oven cleaners, harsh abrasives, or scouring pads. Porcelain- coated racks, a feature on some ranges, can be left in for cleaning during self-clean cycle. Metal oven racks can be left in but will discolor and become hard to slide, so it’s generally recommended to remove them. If you decide to leave them in, after the cycle completes try coating the side edges with a light coating of vegetable oil to ease sliding.
Non-self-cleaning ovens – Wipe up standard ovens after use with a hot, damp cloth or non-abrasive scouring pad. Clean up spills on the oven floor immediately so cooked-on food will not build up. Loosen grease by placing a cup of ammonia in a warm oven. Turn the oven off and close the oven door. Leave it sit for several hours or overnight, then wipe the interior out using a sponge dipped in hot water and detergent. For stubborn stains, use a commercial oven cleaner and a plastic scrub pad or brush. Wear gloves and be sure to have proper ventilation.
Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world, and Mother’s Day 2018 occurs on Sunday, May 13, in the United States. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards and other gifts.
History of Mother’s Day
Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”
Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service.
Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe
The origins of Mother’s Day as celebrated in the United States date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children.
These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2.
Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some have even called Hering “the father of Mothers’ Day.”
The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.
Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis—who remained unmarried and childless her whole life—resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood.
By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Jarvis Decries Commercialized Mother’s Day
Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services. But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity.
While Jarvis had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile, by 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies.
Jarvis eventually resorted to an open campaign against Mother’s Day profiteers, speaking out against confectioners, florists and even charities. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 19
Mother’s Day Around the World
While versions of Mother’s Day are celebrated worldwide, traditions vary depending on the country. In Thailand, for example, Mother’s Day is always celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen, Sirikit.
Another alternate observance of Mother’s Day can be found in Ethiopia, where families gather each fall to sing songs and eat a large feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood.
In the United States, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting mothers and other women with gifts and flowers, and it has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending. Families also celebrate by giving mothers a day off from activities like cooking or other household chores.
At times, Mother’s Day has also been a date for launching political or feminist causes. In 1968 Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s women’s groups also used the holiday as a time to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.
Cleaning Tip – Wooden Salad Bowl
Wipe a bowl out with a nonabrasive pad or cloth dipped in warm, sudsy water. Rub until food particles are removed, and dry the surface immediately. Never soak a wooden bowl in water, put it through the dishwasher, or leave it in direct sunlight. If the wood appears to be dry, rub in some vegetable oil; to season it. Use a paper towel to remove the excess.