Maryland flag hanging from historic building

America is a rich country full of unique holidays that honor many historical events occurring throughout its history. A lesser-known yet highly meaningful example is Maryland Day. Celebrated on March 25th, it serves as a reminder of the determination of early Marylanders and the resourcefulness exhibited by early settlers. 

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What is Maryland Day? 

Maryland Day is a commemorative holiday celebrating the arrival and formal founding of Maryland by the colony’s first European settlers on March 25, 1634. Leonard Calvert, the colony’s first Governor, played a significant role in the future state’s expansion, purchasing land along the Potomac River to begin building St. Mary’s City, the first official settlement. 

The Maryland State Board of Education first created Maryland Day in 1903 to promote state and local history teaching within public schools. In 1916, Maryland Day was authorized by the General Assembly as a legal state holiday (Chapter 633, Acts of 1916.) 

St. Clements Island St. Clements Island
St. Clements Island - The location where the first Maryland settlers arrived

How Did the First Settlers Arrive in Maryland? 

For the first settlers, the journey to America wasn’t easy; it involved forming careful alliances between numerous religious groups to secure funding and a treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Need for Religious Freedom 

To understand the motive behind why Maryland’s first settlers undertook such a dangerous journey to America, you must first look at the religious climate of 17th-century England. The country was divided into two religions: Protestantism, which ran the Church of England, and Catholicism. Catholics were tortured and killed for their faith and denied the right to worship freely. 

On June 20, 1632, Cecilius (Cecil) Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, received authorization from Charles I to go to America and begin a new settlement. While other voyages were meant to find new lands, this one had the sole purpose of settlement, which offered a unique opportunity for religious freedom. 

Cecilius and his father George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, dreamt of creating a Catholic refuge away from the persecution of protestant England. However, after enduring a bitterly cold winter in Newfoundland, the group shifted its sights southward to the warmer Chesapeake Bay region. 

Lord Cecilius Calvert recruited 17 men, all of noble birth. With the support of the Jesuits, another religious group who sent 20 of their own men, these early colonists sailed to Maryland. Within this group was Father Andrew White, who would create a detailed account of the journey and their arrival to the new colony. 

Journey Across the Atlantic 

A group of about 140 brave souls set out aboard the Ark on November 22, 1633, from Cowes, a town on the English Isle of Wight. Along with them was a smaller ship called the Dove, which tragically went missing only three days later, following a severe storm. 

Undeterred, the Ark continued its journey along the Southern side of the European coast, docking in Fortunate, now known as the Canary Islands. From there, the Ark continued Westward across the Atlantic, landing in Barbados in the West Indies on January 3, 1634. The travelers remained on the island for three weeks to rest and replenish supplies. 

While the settlers were docked in the harbor, the Dove re-emerged, much to their surprise. It had made it through the storm and crossed the great Atlantic on its own. 

The group set sail again, stopping at numerous Caribbean islands on their way north until reaching Virginia on February 27. Here, they gathered more supplies before making the final leg of their journey to the mouth of the Potomac by March 3. 

As they approached the shores of southern Maryland, Native American’s living in the area became alarmed and began setting signal fires of warning. To stop any possible trouble, Leonard Calvert sailed the Dove to Piscataway to meet the Indian chief and calm their fears. 

After negotiating a peaceful accord, Calvert returned to what would become present-day St. Mary’s County. The settlers finally set foot on Maryland soil on March 25 and named the area St. Clements Island. To celebrate, they held a day of Thanksgiving, which would become Maryland Day. 

Maryland Day Today 

Today, Maryland Day weekend is celebrated with events in Annapolis, southern Anne Arundel County, and places throughout the state. Many of these are open to the public with low-cost or free admission. Families can visit Maryland Hall or book a historical tour of Annapolis, learning more about the rich and exciting past that makes the state so unique. They can even visit the heritage area where the first settlers landed, granting a deeper appreciation of their state's history. 

AI generated Maryland festival AI generated Maryland festival
Marylanders can enjoy festivities across the state

How to Celebrate Maryland Day 

Consider the following activities if you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate Maryland Day with your family. 

Visit the Annapolis Maritime Museum 

Discover a unique way to celebrate Maryland history at the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Visitors can explore their diverse 12-acre campus or learn about the Chesapeake Bay's robust ecosystem by visiting their craft table. Other activities include geo-catching, self-guided treasure hunts, and more.   

Check out the Chesapeake Children’s Museum 

Kids and adults will enjoy learning about Maryland’s history at this exciting museum. The $1 admission gives access to themed playrooms, a 5-acre park, and other enriching activities.  

Learn About Maryland History 

Maryland Day is the perfect time to educate you and your family on Maryland's history. Those who cannot visit the library or museum can read about Maryland's history on our "Maryland State Flag Spotlight" blog. 

Hang Your State Flag 

Hang your Maryland state flag and showcase your pride and patriotism for living in this beautiful and historically-rich state. 

Celebrate State Pride at has the largest selection of state flags, making it easy to showcase your Maryland state pride. Explore our indoor and outdoor flags, with vibrant colors and premium materials for long-lasting beauty you can see. Every flag is proudly made in America, so you can feel good about your purchase. Discover the difference with your own Maryland state flag today. Contact us today for any questions.