Memorial Day Is Whit Monday In England
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See also: Memorial Day Is About America's Honored Dead—Not George Floyd

Today is of course Memorial Day, when we remember those who died in service to our country. I shall be observing it along with all other patriotic Americans. Secondarily to that, however, and with of course no disrespect intended towards our heroes, I'll be recalling it also as Whit Monday.

In the England of my childhood we set aside November 11th, Remembrance Day, to commemorate those who died in our wars. We didn't have anything equivalent to Veterans Day, commemorating all who served; or if we did, it was so low-key it never registered on my juvenile consciousness.

We did have a big holiday between mid-May and mid-June, though, corresponding roughly to Memorial Day in time but of religious, not patriotic origin. That was Whitsun.

Whit Sunday is the seventh Sunday after Easter on the Christian calendar. The following day, Whit Monday, was a public holiday in mid–20th century Britain. Perhaps it still is; or perhaps it's been replaced by LGBTQIA2S++ Pride Day or some such… I'd prefer not to know.

That whole week—Whitsuntide—had a merry spirit to it, I think mainly because Whit Monday was the first public holiday of the year when there was a chance of good weather. People took the whole week off work if they could.

And it was a favorite time to get married. There was that holiday spirit, and the chance of a honeymoon in good weather—how many more reasons do you need?

I can't recall any Whitsun music, although there surely is some. In lieu of music, here is a very lovely poem from early 1960s England: The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin. The reader here is the late Richard Griffiths, a British actor best known to today's audiences for his movie roles as Harry Potter's uncle.

The reading is rather long—four and a half minutes—but well worth your time if you love poetry.

Music clip: Richard Griffiths reading Philip Larkin's poem The Whitsun Weddings.

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