WASHINGTON – What happens when Maryland Day falls on a Sunday? The same thing that happens when the state holiday falls on any other day of the week — not much.
Maryland Day, which honors the landing of European settlers on St. Clement’s Island on March 25, 1634, doesn’t get much respect these days.
The state has not granted a paid holiday for Maryland Day since 1996. Gov. Parris Glendening has celebrated the day in this past, his office said, but there is nothing on his schedule Sunday to mark the day.
But some still keep the flame burning.
“I think it’s a very important day for Marylanders. . .it’s a good thing for people to remember where they came from,” said Christina Clagett, a museum specialist at St. Clement’s Island Museum.
The museum will celebrate the day with festivities Sunday on St. Clement’s Island that will include a wreath laying at the monument marking the settlers’ landing and a play staged by local high school students.
Museum employees say they expect a significantly bigger crowd this year than the 200 or so people who usually show up for the event, since this year’s celebration is being sponsored in conjunction with the St. Mary’s City Museum. The two museums traditionally hold separate celebrations.
Clagett said speakers scheduled for Sunday’s event include Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, State Delegate John F. Wood Jr., D-St. Mary’s, and Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari.
Maryland Day honors the landing of the Ark and the Dove, ships that left the English Isle of Wight in late 1633 and landed in Maryland four months later, led by Lord Baltimore’s brother Leonard Calvert. The ships were separated in a storm at sea, but met again in Barbados before eventually landing in what would become Maryland.
The Maryland Board of Education was the first to formally observe the day in 1903, by devoting March 25 as a day to learn about Maryland history. State officials followed suit in 1916, when it was declared a state holiday.
While the legislature rescinded the holiday in a 1996 overhaul of the state personnel system, some schools continue to mark the day.
The state board does not require schools to include Maryland Day in their curriculum, but some social studies teachers find a lesson in it and “some schools help keep it alive and celebrate it,” said a state Department of Education spokesman.