Maryland Day is Maryland’s legal holiday for commemorating Maryland history and heritage. It is celebrated on March 25. Marylandians mark the holiday by holding educational events, during which local officials often visit schools in order to illustrate Maryland’s history to students, as it is not a holiday that allows a day off from school. Other events include dinners, reenactments, exhibits and lectures, especially at historical sites.
The date chosen for the celebration, March 25, marks the European settlers’ arrival in Maryland on two ships, The Dove and The Ark in 1635. They arrived at St. Clement’s Island in a group of around 150 settlers. In order to celebrate their safe arrival, the group held mass, which is believed to likely be the first time mass was held in the new world. It was performed by Father Andrew White.
The Dove and The Ark did not have an easy journey, the travelers suffering from fatigue and lack of supplies. The two ships actually lost sight of each other for a brief period after a storm and also were threatened by native peoples on New England’s coast until coming to a peace agreement with the natives.
The colony was founded by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, under King Charles I’s charter. The king required the colony to be named after his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, so the colony was called Mary-Land. It became a legal state holiday in 1916.