DECORATION DAY
Copyright 1996 by Debra C. Blackard
Previously printed in the Minnow Creek Association Newsletter, May 1996.

    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