Age-old tradition Decorating Day observed in Cullman County

Grave visitor with flowers for decoration (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN COUNTY, Alabama. – Decoration Day, an annual celebration still common in Cullman and northern Alabama, has a history steeped in tradition, honor and homecoming.

With many family traditions falling by the wayside in the busy 21st century, Cullman is blessed with a grasp on the importance and value of continuing to value its past natives through the day of decorating.

Leanne West, who recently lost her precious mother, Joyce Clark, in October, is tasked with reciting her mother’s poetry during her Mother’s Church Decorating Day service on Sunday. Speaking in front of an audience is a real test for West who prefers to be a hard worker behind the scenes. However, for his mother, West will face his fears and honor his mother’s legacy knowing that Clark is always with her and always proud of her.

She shares, “Decorating day has been a part of my life since I was a kid. I remember going to Decorating Day ceremonies with my mom and grandmothers when I was a kid.

“And now that my mother and father have both passed away, it is even more important for me to use this time set aside to honor their memory and ensure that my children and grandchildren remember those who have left them. preceded. I will do my best to carry on the tradition of Decorating Day in my family.

Typically held in late spring and early summer, the tradition of Decorating Day dates back to the 19e century in the south. The Sunday chosen for each cemetery will see family members adorn the graves of loved ones with new flowers and reconnect with other families.

In the past, before many cemeteries had custodians and administrators to provide upkeep, families would meet the day before decorating for a day’s work to work on the graves, remove weeds and cut grass. ‘grass.

The following Sunday would see a kind of family reunion with close and extended family members enjoying a potluck picnic together on blankets spread out on the cemetery grounds. Many have traveled hundreds of miles to teach their children about their ancestry and the importance and origins of their family traditions.

The summer season was once preferred for Decorating Day, as the season was less busy on family farms. Between planting season and harvest, late spring and early summer saw more moderate temperatures and slower agricultural work.

Fresh flowers have been commonly used for more than a century to beautify graves. In recent years, silk flowers and arrangements have become a popular option given their ability to withstand the elements for a longer period of time than fresh cut flowers.

The commitment to participate in Decoration Day may seem trivial to some; but, passing any cemetery in Cullman, it is a special sight to see the memory of those we cherish recognized.


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