May 21, 2015

Small Talk for Memorial Day - The Last Monday of May

While the official reason for Memorial Day is to commemorate the fallen soldiers who have fought for the country, the unofficial reasons dominate small talk discussions among many during this time of the year.  

When is Memorial Day in 2016?  
cVictoria Pickering at flickr
In 2016, Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 30.

Unlike other holidays, Memorial Day doesn't fall on the same date every year. It falls on the same day every year, the last Monday of May. 


How Many Days Do People Take Off?
While the last Monday of May is the official "day off," many who work in offices and salaried positions may also take off the preceding Friday to make it a 'long weekend.' This idea of making holidays into a 'long weekend' happens for Labor Day as well. 

Note that Memorial Day is a Federal holiday. Banks, post offices, schools and government offices are closed. Stores, gas stations, restaurants and other related businesses are often open. People working in such jobs on Memorial Day may get paid extra for working on this day.

What Do People Do On Memorial Day?
This day for many more is the exciting day that unofficially starts the summer activity and holiday season. For this reason some of the most popular activities of labor day include outdoor activities:
cThaths at Flickr
  • Bar-Be-Que (BBQ)
  • Picnics
  • Camping
  • Swimming
  • Outdoor Parties
  • Hiking
  • Road Trips
  • Fly Flags, Wear Flag-Related Items, Wear/Decorate with Red, White and Blue


cEdward Faulkner at Flickr
For those who do commemorate the fallen soldiers, they may do any of the following:
  • attend or participate in parades
  • visit graveyards, burial grounds, or cemeteries of the fallen soldiers
  • read or learn about war stories
  • participate in war recreations 
  • visit famous battle sites 

What is celebrated on Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. Veterans Day (November 11 every year) is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who gave their lives and those who perished while in service.

To commemorate service men and women, communities may have parades and patriotic events. Families and friends of fallen service people may visit grave sites, placing flowers and flags to honor their family members. In some parts of the U.S., communities will re-enact battle scenes from American wars.

Small Talk for Memorial Day
With any small talk topics, we need to remember to keep the conversation pinpointed to the person you are talking to and not bring their family or friends into the discussion. The two exceptions to this are if they bring it up or you have known them for a long time and already know about their family and friends. 

That out of the way, typical questions you could ask to your colleague include:
  • Any interesting plans for the Memorial Day weekend?
  • Anything fun planned for the long weekend?
  • How do you spend the Memorial Day weekend?
Other topics people may talk about include:
  • Weather - Remember, most want to do outdoor activities!
  • Gas prices - Many people complain about the gas prices as they start rising this time of the year.
  • Traffic - As many take road trips, they may talk about routes or traffic they will encounter on their trip.
  • Graduations / End of School Year - While most college students have completed their academic years by Memorial Day, school children (up to 12th grade) are preparing for final exams, and some are getting ready for graduation ceremonies.
For more ideas, watch these news clips on hot topics to discuss about for Memorial Day.


When is the Best Time to Talk About These Topics?
Plan this conversation for the last call during the week before the Memorial Day holiday. Make it at the latest the Thursday before the Friday before the holiday weekend. Using these questions and conversation to end the call will leave the call on a good note for both sides!!

Jennifer Kumar is the creator of the US Culture Training Finishing School, helping expat workers adjust to life and work in the US before going or after arriving. Contact us for more information.

Related Posts: 
Gas Prices The Lowest in 10 years During Memorial Day Weekend 2015 
Small Talk for July 4 - US Independence Day  
Tips & Questions to use for daily small talk with US customers  

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