Every third Monday in April, Massachusetts residents celebrate one of the most important moments in the history of the United States. Patriots’ Day commemorates the moment when the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence) started. This holiday has been celebrated each year since 1894.
In 2013 Boston Marathon made the headlines all over the planet when a horrible terrorist attack happened. It happened on the day when Americans living in New England celebrate Patriots’ Day. In fact, they’ve been celebrating this holiday for over a century and it seems the tradition will keep on long in the future.
Patriots’ Day has a special meaning, as it celebrates the day when the U.S. ancestors’ struggle for independence started. At first, it was celebrated on April 19, in honor of the Battles of Concord Lexington that happened on that date in 1775.
Just three years after Patriots’ Day became an official state holiday, the Boston Marathon was included in its program. This decision came after the organizers heard about the marathon race that took place at the first modern Olympics in Athens, just one year earlier.
Since 2013, Patriots’ Day is also the occasion for commemorating the victims of the biggest terrorist attack in the history of Massachusetts, in which three people died and 264 got seriously injured.
It’s important not to confuse this holiday with Patriot Day (National Day of Service and Remembrance), which is held each September 11th to commemorate the anniversary of 2001 terrorist attacks. Unlike Patriot Day, which is commemorated all over the United States, Patriots’ Day is held only in Massachusetts and two other New England states, Wisconsin and Maine.
However, those two states commemorate it on the exact day when the American Revolutionary War started, April 19. Massachusetts, on the other hand, celebrates this holiday on third Monday in April every year.
Why is it observed on Third Monday in April?
The reason why Massachusetts officials decided to mark the holiday this way is to get an extra day to the weekend. This way, the people from this state get to rest on Saturday and Sunday, before taking a part in the events commemorating one of the most important moments in US history.
You may be wondering why it’s the third Monday in April and not first or second, for example. Again, the answer is pretty logical – it’s as closest as it gets to the actual date of the outbreak of the war. Sometimes even happens that Patriots’ Day Monday happens on April 19. In fact, that’s gonna be the case in 2021.
When Is Patriots’ Day?
Here are some dates in the near future on which Patriots’ Day will take place:
2019: April 15
2020: April 20
2021: April 19
2022: April 18
2023: April 17
2024: April 15
2025: April 21
How to Celebrate Patriots' Day in New England?
There is a number of different activities you can take part in, all across New England on Patriots’ Day. Here are some ideas:
· Boston Marathon – The main event of Patriots’ Day celebration in the capital of Massachusetts is Boston Marathon, the second-oldest competition of its kind in the United States. Each year, the race sees hundreds of athletes competing and literally thousands of spectators cheering along the sides of the course. Speaking of the race, its course starts at Hopkinton and covers a distance of 26 miles and 385 yards before reaching the finish point at Copley Square, in Back Bay neighborhood. This is where the award ceremony takes place, as well as the post-event party.
· Reenactment Battles of Lexington and Concord – Each year on Patriots’ Day, there’s a reenactment of the first two battles in the War of Independence. The reenactment takes place in the Minute Man National Historical Park, a historic site that is situated some 13 miles northwest of downtown Boston.
· Visiting Concord Museum – The museum is open on Patriots’ Day, presenting the visitors with historical artifacts from the times of the American Revolution. One of the most popular items on disposal of the Concord Museum is the famous Paul Revere lantern that was used to warn the rebels of the approaching British forces.
· Reenactment of Paul Revere's Historic Row – Speaking of Paul Revere, one the key men for the success of the American Revolution, there’s a reenactment of his historic row across Boston Harbor on Patriots’ Day. If you’re not familiar with this feat, the reenactment seems like the perfect way to learn more about the “midnight run” that changed the course of the history of America.
· Lantern Lighting at Old North Church – This is another event that commemorates the fateful evening when the British troops approached Massachusetts. It takes place on the eve of Patriots Day, that is, on Sunday just before the holiday. Old North Church in Boston is where the lantern lighting ceremony takes place, which is pretty appropriate considering that the church was the building from where the original “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent to the rebels.
· Boston Red Sox Game – Ever since 1959, Boston Red Sox play a home match on Patriots Day. Obviously, the baseball match takes place at Fenway Park, which has been the home ground of Boston Red Sox for more than a century.
· Maine Patriots’ Day Celebration – Massachusetts is the only US state that observes this holiday on third Monday in April. The other states that celebrate Patriots’ Day do that on April 15th each year. On that day, there are lots of music festivals, parades, and battle reenactments all across those two states. The celebration is particularly impressive in Maine, where it usually takes more than just one day.
Apart from the states in New England, the anniversary start of the War of Independence is commemorated in many other parts of the United States. For example, despite not having a status of an official holiday, Patriots’ Day festivities are organized in many parts of Florida.