memorial day facts and trivia: amaze your friends and family

Memorial Day: Random Trivia and Fun Facts

“We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.” ~Francis A. Walker

Why do we wear white after Memorial Day? How many hot dogs will be eaten, and why are there only eight rolls in a package of hot dog buns?

Your burning Memorial Day questions will be answered right here.

Memorial Day is an Older Tradition Than You Realize

Memorial Day was once a day honoring Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War. At that time, it was called Decoration Day. In the 1900’s, the day was expanded to include all soldiers who died while serving. In 1967, the name was officially changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day.

The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Wear White Between Labor Day and Memorial Day

This fashion trend had its beginnings in simple snobbery. In the 1930’s, wealthy Americans would close their houses in the city and head for cooler climates, often summering in hotels and summerhouses. White clothes are generally lighter and cooler, and wearing these while vacationing was a status symbol that meant wealth and a life of leisure. When it was time to return to the city, white clothes were packed away and darker, heavier clothing was brought out.

The current tradition may also have some basis in logistics; white clothing is harder to keep clean and slopping around in mud and snow meant these lighter colors and fabrics would quickly be ruined. For most Americans in those days, purchasing new outfits was a luxury they simply couldn’t afford.

Even if it remained hot past Labor Day, white was not permitted. Wearing white into the fall was a sure way to be snubbed by the upper class.

Memorial Day is the Second Most Popular Grilling Day

Grab your tongs and get busy; Memorial Day is the second most popular day for barbecues, followed by Labor Day, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day. The only day topping Memorial Day for grilling is July 4.

Coincidentally, Memorial Day is also the second most popular day for drinking beer, topped once again by July 4th.

That’s a Lot of Dogs

Memorial Day launches summer grilling, and if you are ready for a barbecue you aren’t alone. Fifty-seven percent of Americans will be grilling on Memorial Day. What they’ll be grilling:

  • Burgers (85%)
  • Steaks (80%)
  • Hot Dogs (79%)
  • Chicken (73%)

It’s estimated that over 800 hot dogs are eaten on Memorial Day…per second. This means nearly 72 million hot dogs are eaten on this day alone. After all, Memorial Day is considered the official kick-off to the “hot dog eating season.”

That Age-Old Hot Dog/Bun Packaging Imbalance

Anyone want to do the math and see how many extra packages of hot dog rolls will be needed to balance the hot dog/bun packaging problem? The reason for the bun shortage is logistical:  Hot dog rolls are baked in pans that hold eight rolls, coming off the trays in two sets of four buns each (that’s why your buns are still attached to each other in the package). Meanwhile, hot dog distributors chose the number of hot dogs in a package (typically ten) in the 1940’s based on the weight of the meat, and never looked back.

The Memorial Day Traditions You Never Knew

In the year 2000, a resolution was passed asking that every American stop their activities and reflect on the sacrifices made by war heroes at 3pm on Memorial Day. Called the National Moment of Remembrance Resolution, Americans are encouraged to listen to taps or observe a moment of silence to honor the fallen.

On Memorial Day, American flags should be flown at half-staff until noon before being raised.

A twenty-one-gun salute was originally a peace declaration; since there was a limited amount of ammo on ships, they would fire 21 cannonballs to announce they were unarmed. Those waiting on land would do the same, and both sides knew that the intentions of the other were peaceful. This had its roots in the ancient practice of pressing the point of your weapon into the dirt to show you had peaceful intentions when meeting the enemy.

The three-gun volley was sounded on the battleground to call a cease-fire for both sides to go onto the field and collect their soldiers. Once they had finished, the three shots were sounded again and fighting would resume.

Wearing Red Poppies on Memorial Day

The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day was started by a reference from the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian John McCrae in 1915:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”


The red poppy is one of the first flowers to grow in battlefields. Its seeds are scattered across the fields by the wind and germinate when the ground is disturbed. Red poppies are very common on battlefields because the ground was torn up during skirmishes.

In 1918, Moina Michael petitioned to have the red poppy declared a national symbol of remembrance after reading this poem, and in 1920 her wish came true. She would dedicate her life to creating fabric poppies and spreading the word about the importance of the poppy as a remembrance until her death in 1944.

The First State to Officially Celebrate Memorial Day was New York

Though twenty-five states claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day celebrations, it’s commonly recognized that New York state was the first to recognize the holiday in 1873.

Hit the Shops

Nearly half of all Americans will be shopping the Memorial Day sales, spending nearly $490 each. Stores slash prices between 20-80%, with home goods and clothing being the top sellers.

And there you have it. Amaze your friends and family with these Memorial Day facts and trivia (while wearing your white shoes and grilling hot dogs)!


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