Holidays like Memorial Day are occasions I enjoy hosting friends over to my home for food and fellowship. For many it's an official "kick-off" to the Summer season.  I recently learned something interesting about it's history after doing some reading. Writer Sherry Lamoreaux contributed the following to a blog entry on blog.act-on.com titled Dinner on the Ground”: Why We Have Picnics On Memorial Day.

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established “Decoration Day” as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. It is believed that May 30th was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountains. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles.

People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. There often is a religious service and a “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

Our nation may have shifted to barbeque as the national Memorial Day tradition (and a kick-off to summer) but we like to think of the custom as having its roots in “dinner on the ground.”

Back home, Mama used to refer to "dinner on the ground", as any type of family reunion or church gathering; although, I never remember eating on the ground, picnic style. Typically, even if we were outdoors, we sat at tables or on the tailgate of our Chevy truck.

 Big Fat Bacon Sliders

Big Fat Bacon Sliders

As I prepare for Memorial Day on Monday, I will be hosting my own "dinner on the ground" Burgers, hot dogs, some awesome sides and a great dessert or two will be on the menu. Next week, i'll post pictures and some recipes. Instead of doing the regular size burger, i'm choosing to make mini-burgers, otherwise known today as sliders. This recipe, from Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman,  I prepared on Memorial Day three years ago. The photograph here was taken on that date as well. However, I'm planning to add a special ingredient into my sliders to make them extra special!  Can you guess what it will be? 

Big Fat Bacon Sliders

(makes about 16 sliders)

2 pounds Ground Beef

1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt

1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper Or Other Seasoning

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

16 strips Thin/regular Bacon

1⁄4 cups Barbecue Sauce

slices (shavings) Cheese: Cheddar, Jack, Etc.

whole Dinner Rolls (or Slider Rolls)

Combine meat with all seasoning ingredients. Knead with hands to combine. Form into small-to-medium sized balls; an ice cream scoop is a great way to get uniform-sized patties. Cut slices of bacon in half lengthwise. Wrap one half around ball of hamburger, pulling slightly to keep taut. Smooth to secure seam. Repeat with other half of bacon, ending seam in the same place.

Place patties, bacon seam side down, on a baking pan with a drip tray sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Press gently on each patty to flatten as much as you can without squeezing meat out of the edges. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes to firm.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush each patty liberally with barbecue sauce. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bacon is cooked to your specifications. Remove from oven and lay a cheese shaving on each patty. Serve on a roll with your choice of toppings/condiments.

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