May 20, 2020 — 11 a.m. EST
Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Though you may feel like all of your days blend together, it can be fun to celebrate distinct holidays — even with many states still enforcing stay-at-home orders. It just may have to involve thinking outside of the box and coming up with creative Memorial Day weekend ideas for quarantine, specifically.
Memorial Day has a long history (beyond the signal that summer has arrived), beginning as a way to honor soldiers who died in the United States Civil War. The traditions associated with the holiday have changed over the years, and include memorial services, collective moments of silence, flag-raising, cookouts and social gatherings. But this year is unlike any other; we can't celebrate together the way we’ve grown accustomed to. Even as all 50 states have started easing restrictions, public health experts continue to warn us that too much too soon will be dangerous. It’s important that while we celebrate this weekend, we continue to stay safe and maintain social distancing.
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Luckily, there are still many things we can do — some fresh takes on older traditions, or perhaps we use the occasion to create new traditions, much in line with the evolution of the holiday itself. Here are five creative ways to spend your Memorial Day weekend.
Make Memorial Themed Crafts
The holiday was previously known as "Decoration Day", so while it may be more difficult to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers as many cemeteries won't have services or are remaining closed, you can still do some decorating in your house, or do it all outside. Make a flower wreath for your door, using either real flowers or make your own out of paper or try chalk art on a non-busy sidewalk.
Go for a Walk
There are many proven benefits of walking, for both our mental and physical health, and there are different approaches to walking and ideas of how it changes us. You can add a Memorial Day intention to your walks this weekend, too. It could be a walk to find all the flowers for your aforementioned wreath, or for any other craft supply, or even a scavenger hunt. Think of someone who was lost to war while you walk; consider your walk your act of honor.
Have a Movie Night
Watch a movie with your household and make it more of an event than you normally would, with snacks or a theme. For the occasion, consider watching one of the 50 greatest war movies ever made. If you have a car and live near one, go to a drive-in theater. Since movie theaters are still closed, drive-ins are one of the only ways to still get out to see a film.
Watch a Virtual Service
Every year, PBS hosts the National Memorial Day Concert to honor the military service of all people and their families. It will be broadcast on Sunday, May 24. Check here for more details. Arlington's National Cemetery will be closed to the public, but it has put together an online exhibit the public can view from home. The Military Women's Memorial will hold a virtual ceremony. The website Ancestry.com has organized a virtual "Parade of Heroes". Many cities have cool things planned, such as drive-by parades or virtual services and live digital events, so search your local area for events.
Have a Memorial Day Dinner
Make it a special dinner, with multiple courses, decorations, and a dress code. If you have a grill, have a cookout, if not, cook in but dine outside in your yard or another place where you can easily maintain social distancing while picnicking. You can make a Memorial Day inspired menu, or use the occasion to make any dish that's outside your ordinary. Make s'mores, summery cocktails and mocktails. Sing karaoke on your phone with friends or strangers with the singing app Smule.
Any way you choose to spend your three-day weekend, the fact that you still have choices is important to remember in a time when many of us are still struggling in isolation. You can celebrate the day as traditionally as you'd like, or simply use the advent of summer to welcome warmer weather. This weekend is an opportunity for us to celebrate in any way we safely can at a time when we could all really use it.