Maryland Day is on March 25 and the story behind it is one for the ages. Many people think of seafood when they think about Maryland, but it has a rich history with surprising details. The name came from Queen Henrietta Maria of England who was married to King Charles I, though there are some historians who believe that it was named after Jesus’ mother Mary.
History of Maryland Day
On June 20, 1632, King Charles I of England authorized the charter that granted the settlement of Maryland to Cecilius Calvert, the Baron of Baltimore. The settlers took two ships: one was a large ship named Ark and the other was a smaller one named Dove. Cecilius’s brother, Leonard Calvert traveled on the former and led the Maryland settlers.
The ships set sail November 22, 1634 from Cowes on the English Isle of Wight. After several days, a storm came upon them and separated the ships. The Ark went onto the Fortunate Islands, now known as the Canary Islands, then sailed westward across the Atlantic where they landed on Barbados in the West Indies on January 3. While stationed there for three weeks, the Dove returned to them and the ships sailed northward to Virginia on February 27. They stocked up on supplies then traveled to Chesapeake Bay north to the Potomac in early March.
They arrived on Maryland’s shores much to the concern of the Native Americans. Leonard Calvert sailed to Piscataway and met with the Conoy Indian Chief and negotiations were made to keep the peace. He sailed back down the Potomac and on March 25, English settlers rowed to the island of the soon-to-be-named St. Clements and had a thanksgiving feast for their accomplishment.
The State Board of Education chose one day in the school year to acknowledge the history of Maryland which began in 1903, and they named March 25 as Maryland Day. The General Assembly authorized it as a legal holiday in 1916. Today, Maryland Day is celebrated as a day of learning, fun, and discovery with events and activities based on exploration.
Maryland Day timeline
Maryland Day is celebrated with events and activities honoring the state's history.
- March 24, 1634
A Thankful Feast
The English settlers aboard the ships left them to row to St. Clements Island for a feast honoring their voyage.
- November 22, 1634
The Ark and Dove ships started their voyage from Cowes on the English Isle of Wight.
- June 20, 1632
King Charles I of England authorized Cecilius Calvert to settle Maryland with two ships: the Ark and the Dove.
Maryland Day FAQs
Why is today Maryland Day?
Maryland Day on March 25 commemorates the day English settlers first arrived to St. Clement’s Island and enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast.
What is Maryland known for?
Maryland is known for fishing, its delicious seafood, and also mining.
What are some fun facts about Maryland?
A few fun facts about Maryland include: The United States Naval Academy was founded in Annapolis on October 10, 1845, The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company built its first railroad station in Baltimore, and Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore.
How to Observe Maryland Day
Listen to some sea tunes
Music can transport us to different places and there are festivals in Annapolis and parts of Anne Arundel County that allow you to do just that. The Naval Academy Band is also the perfect place to commemorate Maryland’s history with the sea. The Naval Academy Band plays exciting works from various accomplished composers that honor Maryland.
Native American history
A great way of paying respect to the Native Americans of Maryland is to learn about them. Going to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian is a great way to do just that. You'll get to explore authentic places and sacred sites and have access to photographs, maps, ceremonial, and everyday objects of the Native people.
Set sail yourself
Go to Dock Street Annapolis and learn about Maryland’s ships. The Pride of Baltimore II is Maryland's renowned tall ship where people can learn the history of privateers. If you want to feel like a sailor yourself, Watermark Cruises offers 40-minute cruises where you can explore Annapolis Harbor and the US Naval Academy.
Five Surprising Facts About International Maryland Day
Lords of the land
George Calvert became the first Lord of Baltimore and his brother Cecil Calvert was the second.
Home of Oprah
Oprah Winfrey was a former news anchor in Baltimore.
Baltimore has more statues and monuments per capita than any other city in the US.
The largest city in Maryland is Baltimore, but the capital is Annapolis.
King of the seas
Sales of seafood at lunchtime often outnumber the combined sales of hamburgers and hotdogs.
Why Maryland Day is Important
A centerpiece to history
While the state of Maryland is on the smaller side, it’s packed to the brim with important historical moments. Four Marylanders signed the Declaration of Independence, Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, citizens persevered after the “Great Baltimore Fire”. These are just some of the contributions that Maryland has made to the country at large. Without this small state, the US wouldn’t be the same.
In the Navy
Maryland has a close connection to the sea, from its origins to the present day. The United States Naval Academy was founded on October 10, 1845, at Annapolis. The school opened with fifty midshipmen students and seven professors that taught the up and coming Navy mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, English, chemistry, natural philosophy, and French.
The National Anthem
America's National anthem was written by a lawyer from Maryland. His name was Francis Scott Key and many historians believe it was written on September 14, 1814, during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.
Maryland Day dates