For those of you who stumble across my blog from outside of Massachusetts, you may enjoy this little bit of trivia.
It’s a holiday that doesn’t really exist in the rest of the country (except, apparently, Maine, according to Wikipedia), and brings blank stares from out-of-staters, and even from not a few in-staters. Seems kind of odd to me that people in this country wouldn’t want to celebrate the start of the Revolution, though I suppose the Fourth of July is considered to be enough in most states.
schebang, from Paul Revere’s famous ride, on a real horse, in real Georgian costume, up Mass Ave into Lexington, to battles complete with muskets on the Lexington Town Green and down by Concord’s Old North Bridge (Google Map). If you’re willing to get up at the crack of dawn, it’s quite a lot of fun to watch.
Patriots Day is also the day of the Boston Marathon. Everybody’s heard of the Marathon. The attention given to the Marathon probably explains the lack of attention to the goofy re-enactments of Patriots Day itself.
Just about everybody has also heard of the origin of the word “Marathon” in the legend of Pheidippides, the Athenian herald to ran the 26 miles to announce the victory of the Athenian army over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon, considered to be one of the great “hinge points” of history, especially as Persia was at the time the largest empire the world had ever seen. Oddly, the Wikipedia articles on this topic keep referring to the “Town of Marathon”. That’s news to me. Although there is certainly a town there now, and was probably a town there in ancient times (though whether it was there at the time of the battle is something I don’t know), but I always understood it to refer to the name of the field where the battle took place. Wikipedia also incorrectly defines Marathon (Μαραθών as the Ancient Greek word for “fennel” (which is presumably what the field was full of): the word for fennel was μάραθον, with the accent on the first syllable and a short ‘o’. Μαραθών is apparently an adjective meaning “overgrown with fennel” (“befennelled”?). Whether Marathon was already a real place-name, either of a field of of a town at the time of the battle is something I don’t know.
An apparently “official” site for re-enactors on Patriots Day: BattleRoad.org
WBGH did a very fun documentary on the Patriots Day re-enactors, which gets re-broadcast around this time of year on PBS stations.
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