Today is Memorial Day, which began originally to honor soldiers who died on the Union side during the Civil War. For a long time, there was a separate Confederate Memorial Day. Although not a lot of fuss has been made about that remembrance in recent decades, its mere presence--and the origins of the holiday--made Memorial Day less of a holiday here in the South for a long time.
That has changed, however, and every year more Southerners take the day off. In the North, it has always been a holiday. Most governmental offices are closed, as are the Postal Service, banks, and thre stock market. This is also the traditional date for beginning of summer vacation from school. Even if you're not in school, the lingering reflexes there make one want to start easing off a bit.