• This year, Memorial Day is Monday, May 27, 2024, and is always the last Monday of May.
  • Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
  • The day of remembrance for fallen U.S. soldiers has been commemorated since the end of the Civil War but has only been a federal holiday since 1971.

It’s the unofficial start of summer—filled with the promise of sunny skies, warm weather, and a three-day weekend stretching before us. Often, we gather with family and friends on Memorial Day for a backyard barbecue along with red, white, and blue desserts, a patriotic playlist, and maybe some fireworks. Or, we might set out on a weekend road trip or plan a few nights under the stars at a favorite campsite.

But it’s important to remember that Memorial Day is about more than burgers and better weather. First and foremost, it is observed in remembrance of those who fought—and died—for our freedom. In their honor, you might fly the American flag or read some famous Memorial Day quotes to help you reflect on their sacrifice.

No matter what your plans are for the weekend, you may be wondering: When is Memorial Day Weekend 2024? We’re here with all the answers you need to know, plus some Memorial Day history.

When is Memorial Day 2024?

Unlike many holidays, Memorial Day is not on the same date every year. This year, Memorial Day is on Monday, May 27, 2024. Memorial Day is always held on the last Monday in May. Because the holiday creates a three-day weekend, the Saturday before through that Monday, which is May 25–27 this year, is referred to as Memorial Day weekend.

Is Memorial Day a federal holiday?

Yes, Memorial Day is 1 of 11 federal holidays, according to the U.S. Government. The other 10 are New Year’s Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s Birthday, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. That means you can expect government offices, as well as banks and post offices and many private businesses, to be closed. Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday in 1971.

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What is the history of Memorial Day?

Americans celebrate Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, to honor the brave people who died while serving in the U.S. military.

One of the very first known observances took place way back on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, right after the end of the Civil War, according to the History Channel. A group of freed enslaved men, women, and children had buried the bodies of Union soldiers after Confederate soldiers evacuated Charleston. On May 1, people gathered for a parade in the fallen soldiers’ honor, singing hymns and placing flowers at the fighters’ graves.

A few years later, Union General John A. Logan declared there be a date of remembrance for those who died during the Civil War. He chose May 30, 1868, because it wasn’t already the anniversary of a battle. However, the Southern states opted to create their own day specifically for Confederate soldiers. Currently, nine states still set aside a day to honor those who lost their lives fighting for the Confederacy.

Memorial Day remained unofficial for many more years, though people certainly continued holding tributes for the fallen. Decades later, in 1950, the U.S. Congress agreed upon a resolution asking the president to “issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe … Memorial Day, by praying, each in accordance with his religious faith, for permanent peace.”

Then, in 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which declared that Memorial Day would occur on the final Monday every May. It also required a day off work for federal employees. Finally, in 1971, the anniversary officially became a federal holiday.

JENNIFER ALDRICH

Editorial Assistant

Jennifer Aldrich was the editorial assistant for CountryLiving.com.