Difference Between Memorial Day and Celebration Day

To honor the death of every fallen soldier of every American War Memorial Day is celebrated every last Monday of the month of May. Also known as Decoration Day this name came into being when the purpose of the day was extended to mourn the martyrdom of every dead soldier for the American cause.

Decoration Day VS Memorial Day

The main difference between Decoration Day and Memorial Day is that Decoration Day was celebrated to honor the dead of Civil War whereas, Memorial Day is celebrated to honor the death of all war hero who died for the American cause. Decoration Day derives its name from the tradition in which people used to decorate the graves of the dead.

Decoration Day vs Memorial Day

The name Decoration Day was first used by General John A. Logan in 1868 when he announced May 30th to be observed as Decoration Day. It was the tradition of decorating the Graves of dead which was common in the region before and after the Civil War.

Women and groups of women used to decorate the graves to thank the martyrdom for their sacrifice and valor.

Memorial Day has a very controversial origin as more than 25 villages and states claim to have observed it. This federal holiday got its name during the late 19th century. This holiday is observed to remember the sacrifice made by all the Martyrdom.

Be it Mexican-American War, the Civil War, or any war which claimed American lives finds it mention on this day. As it is celebrated to remember all the sacrifice made in the name of The American Cause.

Comparison Table Between Decoration Day and Memorial Day

Parameters of comparisonDecoration DayCelebration Day
Origin timeIt was first official used in 1868 by General John A. Logan.It came into being in the late 19th century.
War concernedIt was celebrated to remember only the dead of Civil War.It is celebrated to remember every Martyr for The American cause.
CustomIt was based on the old custom of decorating graves of the dead.It is unofficial starting date of summer in America.
Federal HolidayIt was not a federal holiday.It is a federal holiday.
OrganizationIt was not organized.It is organized.

What is Decoration Day?

As the name suggests it so called as women and groups of women used to decorate the Graves of the dead who lost their lives during the Civil War. The custom of Grave decoration is not new and it did not start after the civil war. It is centuries old tradition.

It earned traction during the Civil War as people started referencing to it. One of the prominent names is General John A. Logan among others. It was celebrated in different parts of the country.

It was celebrated with cycling competition and veterans and soldiers used to march along. Evidence can be found from the Prints and Photographs division.

It is very hard to pin the exact origin of this holiday as there are so many villages, towns and city which claim to be the birthplace. It however found its first mention during 1868 when commander of The Grand Army of the Republic declared it as a holiday.

It was first celebrated on May 30th at Arlington National Cemetery where all the Confederate and Union soldiers lie in peace. Southern women used to decorate the graves long before the end of the Civil War and it find it precedents in so many states long before it got its proper name.

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is nothing but an extended form of Decoration Day. This federal holiday is celebrated to mourn entire Martyrdom who fell for The American Cause. The day is celebrated with parade and the old tradition of decorating Graves is still practiced.

This is an annual holiday which is originated from Waterloo, New York. The place was given this pride by president Lyndon Johnson as it was the place which observed it formally for the first time.

In the year of 1971 a federal law made last Monday of May as the observation day for the holiday. Still there are a few states which continue to celebrate it on 30th of May.

National observation takes place at the historic Arlington National Cemetery where The Tomb of the Unknow Soldier is decorated with a garland.

The tradition of flying the flag follows a particular protocol. First it is raised quickly at the sunrise and then lowered immediately to half-staff until noon. It is then flown at full staff till sunset.

During the late 19th century, it came to be known fully as Memorial Day and now it is observed to mourn the death of millions who lost their lives during any of the war. It was when the USA found itself amidst the World War 1 when people stated observing the day to mourn the death of all the fallen soldiers.

Main Difference Between Celebration Day and Memorial Day

  1. Celebration Day was celebrated only to mourn Civil War martyrdom whereas Memorial Day is celebrated to mourn every fallen soldier of American Military. 
  2. Celebration Day is so called because women used to decorate graves of the Dead whereas Memorial Day is the Federal name.
  3. Memorial Day is celebrated at national level whereas Decoration Day was celebrated at city, village or state level.
  4. Memorial Day is celebrated on every last Monday of the month of may whereas Celebration Day was celebrated on 30th of May.
  5. Celebration day is a federal holiday whereas Celebration Day was not so for a long period of time.


Celebration Day and Memorial Day are one and the same thing with only difference being that it was celebrated to mourn the death of Civil War martyrdom whereas Memorial Day is celebrated to mourn the death of every fallen soldier who died in any of the war fought by the USA. The tradition remains the same with a slight change during the celebration. The origin of the holiday is controversial as many places lay claim to its origin. Many precedents can be found for these in various pat of the country.


  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/e2b07dc149c1e20bd3734814ff92c1d8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1818448
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0957926512471762
Help us improve. Rate this post! Total (0 votes,average: 0)