Maryland Day in the United States Date in the current year: March 25, 2024

Maryland Day in the United States Maryland Day is a legal holiday observed by residents of the U.S. state of Maryland on March 25. On this day in 1634, European settlers founded the Province of Maryland, the third English colony in North America.

The first European to sail past Chesapeake Bay was Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine explorer sailing under the French flag, in 1524. In 1608, English explorer John Smith, who had founded the first permanent English settlement in the New World the previous year, explored the bay extensively.

In 1632, King Charles I of England granted George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, a royal charter to settle lands between the 40th parallel and the south bank of the Potomac River. Since Calvert had died before the charter was sealed, the settlement of the new colony was left to his son Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore.

Official accounts claim that the colony was named Maryland (Terra Mariae) after Charles I’s wife Henrietta Maria, the youngest daughter of King Henry IV of France. However, some Catholic scholars believe that George Calvert, who was a Catholic, named the colony after the Virgin Mary. By the way, a significant portion of the first settlers were Catholics who were promised religious freedom.

On November 22, 1633, approximately three hundred settlers lead by Cecil Calvert’s younger brother Leonard departed from Cowes aboard two small ships, the Ark and the Dove. Among them were seventeen gentlemen and their wives, and most of the rest were indentured servants. One of the ships also carried Andrew White, a Jesuit missionary who had helped to turn George Calvert to Catholicism.

On March 25, 1634, the ships landed at St. Clement’s Island at the mouth of the Potomac River, which the settlers chose as their temporary base of operations. Upon disembarking, Father White led the first Catholic mass in British North America.

The arrival of the colonists coincided with the Feast of Annunciation; it is a major feast in the Catholic Church, classified as a solemnity. So it is not surprising that the first settlement in Maryland (and the colony’s first capital) was named St. Mary’s City in honor of both the Virgin Mary and Queen Henrietta Maria.

The anniversary of the arrival of the first settlers is celebrated as Maryland Day. It was first observed in 1903; the observance was initiated by the Maryland State Department of Education to encourage teaching the state history in public schools. In 1916, the Maryland General Assembly officially declared Maryland Day a legal holiday. It is celebrated to highlight the history, heritage, culture and environment of Maryland.

Maryland Day is marked by ceremonies, historical pageants, guided tours, and other commemorative events and activities held throughout the state. For example, a remembrance ceremony is held on the steps outside the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse, next to a bronze statue of Cecil Calvert. Various events take place in Historic St. Mary’s City and in the Four Rivers Heritage Area of Maryland over the Maryland Day weekend.

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Maryland Day in the United States, holidays in the United States, holidays in Maryland, legal holiday