The annual gathering known as "Decoration Day" is that pecularly Southern custom where large groups of interconnected families meet at commuinity cemeteries and place flowers on the graves of deceased loved ones. This tradition has been explained, variously, by folk historians and cultural geographers as (1) a Protestant modification of of the Roman Catholic All Saint's and All Soul's Days (November 2 & 3;) (2) an off-shoot of the "cemetery workin'," a day set aside for yearly maintenance of the cemetery; (3) loosely organized groups of kinfolks who devoted the day to ritual care of the burial grounds and remembrance of loved ones through memorial programs, homecoming, and "dinner-on-the-grounds;" (4) and secondarily as a complex family reunion.
The typical "Decoration Day"
is a reflection of the ideas, values, and religious beliefs of the Upland
South Culture. Today this custom is found in few areas, but where
practiced, reflects a dep respect for traditional ways of life and the
uniqueness of being Southern. It is not essential to attend a "Decoration
Day" to appreciate the past and to remember those friends and family members
who are deceased, but in doing so, one has an opportunity to participate
in a type of gathering that provides a sense of belonging, continuity with
past generations, and identification with family and community. "Decoration
Day" is a cultural phenomenon that can be experienced in no other region
in the United States.
Johnson County Cemetery Index
Johnson County Genealogy