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Explore the 
History of Patriots' Day in Boston

Explore the History of Patriot's Day

Old State House and the skyscrapers of the Financial District at twilight in Boston, Massa

We lose sight of the true meaning of many of our holidays. The holiday known as Patriots’ Day is no different. The vast majority of folks living in Boston and around Massachusetts as a whole think of the day as “Marathon Monday.” Most see it as the one day a year when many attempt to run the 26 miles and 385 yards that make up the Boston Marathon. Patriots’ Day, though, means so much more than that.

The Origination of Patriots’ Day Begins At the American Revolution

The American Revolution is the starting point of Patriots’ Day as we know it. Back on April 19, 1775, a major battle kicked off over independence from Great Britain. The battle was the Battles of Lexington and Concord. 

In Massachusetts during this time, Parliament made the declaration that Massachusetts was in a rebellious state. Within the colony, the residents took up the battle for independence. That battle, along with many others as part of the American Revolution, is what led to the United States of America and its creation as we know it today.

Tying It In With The American Civil War

Patriots’ Day also has a link to the American Civil War. On April 19, 1861, the Baltimore riot took place. During this courageous effort, the first blood of the American Civil War saw shed. Not only does Patriots’ Day carry a linkage with the American Revolution, but the American Civil War as well.

Replacing Fast Day

Fast Day was a holiday that was in existence in the late 1800s. It was in 1894 that Massachusetts Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge was seeking a replacement for the poorly received holiday. Looking back at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Governor saw immense courage and inspiration from that specific day and the battle that came before it, as well as after it. 

The other factor and the significance of April 19th was the anniversary of that Baltimore Riot which was the starting point of the American Civil War. 

All in, Patriots’ Day was a desire to end Fast Day, as well as commemorate the anniversary of two great battles. 

When Marathon Monday Came Into the Picture

So when exactly did Marathon Monday and the Boston Marathon come into the picture?

As the years went by, beginning in 1897, the Boston Marathon saw its creation as a way to celebrate Patriots’ Day. The inspiration for the creation of the Boston Marathon came from the summer Olympic Games in Athens that prior summer. 

Ever since then, April 19th has become known for the Boston Marathon as much as it has for Patriots’ Day as the holiday itself. 

Do Any Other States Celebrate Patriots’ Day?

Patriots’ Day is not a national holiday, but it does get recognition in a few other states. Maine and Wisconsin are two states which officially observe and celebrate the holiday. These two states, though, still celebrate it on April 19th each year rather than the third Monday in April (we will get to that in the next section). In the state of Florida, while it is not an official holiday, residents get encouragement to celebrate the holiday and what it commemorates.

When The Day of the Holiday Made a Change

So why is it that Patriots’ Day and the Boston Marathon are no longer always on April 19th? It was in 1969 when this change came to be. The state of Massachusetts came to the decision that the Patriots’ Day celebration was best as a three-day weekend event. This is where the shift to moving Patriots’ Day to the third Monday in April came to be. 

Patriots’ Day is a holiday with a lot of history and also a holiday that has seen quite a bit of evolution. Now that you know the background, you can hopefully appreciate the day that much more.


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