Why do Americans love a BBQ on the holidays? Because most sane people LOVE good BBQ! Maybe they are a vegetarian and don’t like meat, but they can still enjoy grilled veggies and corn on the cob.
It is silly to ask why if you are an American, but there are reasons beyond the obvious fact a barbeque is a feast of primal instinct.
When there is any kind of holiday the main part of the celebration has got to be eating a big, delicious meal. Now on religious holidays, the meal will be inside and consist of traditional eats such as turkeys and ham.
However, on major holidays that celebrate America, such as Memorial Day (Last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day (first Monday in September), BBQ is the rule. Since holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day are in the winter, there ain’t gonna be no darn BBQing probably, as BBQ is an outdoor cooking event.
Although, there are hard-core BBQ fanatics who will do their outdoor cooking no matter what. As the famous Greek historian said:
“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous pitmasters from the swift completion of their appointed briskets!”
Oh, wait, that was referring to the courageous Persian mounted postal couriers, but you get the idea. I always like to add a little history into these BBQ blogs! And speaking of history, let’s talk about the history of BBQ in America and how it has become such an important part of our holidays and other celebrations from ye olden days until now.
Ye Olden Days
We can go back to 1672 when George Washington mentions attending a “barbicue” in Alexandria, Virginia, which was his hometown. A city with a rich colonial history frequented by America’s founding fathers. So, this is a good place to start with our timeline of BBQ in American history.
As America expanded from Virginia and the original colonies to the west along the Gulf of Mexico and then north along the Mississippi River, those early settlers brought barbecue with them.
Traveling in wagon trains or just horses to settle the west was a rough life. In those early days cooking meat outdoors over a fire was normal and necessary, so a “BBQ” was not seen as a holiday event. It was just something you did to survive.
After railroads were built and towns were built along the way, and people began to settle, then they could start to have a more “civilized” life as was already happening in the early 13 colonies. By 1870, after most of the US was settled and the civil war was over, it was then that the US Congress made July 4 a federal holiday.
In 1941, it was then expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Nowadays, almost all employers give their employees off July 4.
Barbecue was already a well-developed cooking style for celebrations by the late 1600s and early 1700s. Before the revolutionary war years, colonists had celebrated King George III’s birthday, which traditionally included BBQ feasts.
When 1776 came, and America gained independence from Britain, BBQ feasts had already become the standard fare during the period when Fourth of July celebrations gained civic and social momentum. Fourth of July and BBQ have been associated ever since.
Holidays are us
Americans now have more holidays to celebrate in addition to July 4, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are to more widely celebrated with a BBQ. Statistically:
July 4 (71 percent), Memorial Day (57 percent), and Labor Day (55 percent). Other holidays that include a BBQ are Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.
In the strictest sense, the United States has no national holidays. Each one of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its holidays.
However, most states observe these 10 “legal or public holidays” declared by the federal government for government employees on these holidays:
- Federal Holidays
- New Year’s Day: January 1
- Martin Luther King Day: 3rd Monday in January
- President’s Day: 3rd Monday in February
- Memorial Day: last Monday in May
- Independence Day: July 4
- Labor Day: first Monday in September
- Columbus Day: second Monday in October
- Veterans Day: November 11
- Thanksgiving Day: 4th Thursday in November
- Christmas Day: December 25
All government offices, post offices, banks, and many private businesses are closed on these holidays. YEA!
How do we love BBQ! Let me count the ways
Because these special holidays are celebrated throughout the USA, barbecue has more than just one cooking style. There is a wide variation between the US’s various regions with fierce rivalry as to which is the best. There are differences in the favorite meat and the use of sauces.
Here are some of the regional differences.
Carolinas BBQ: No part of the pig is off-limits in the Carolinas. Everything from the shoulders to the ribs is and cooked in a pit without rub. The sauce: fans are either loyal to mustard or vinegar style. The vinegar base tends to be a bit tangier, while the mustard base can be a little sweet. Regardless of your preference, the sauce is usually thin, and most opt to coat their entire meals with it.
Memphis BBQ: While Memphis BBQ fans still prefer pork, most incorporate a dry rub before cooking and then finish with a tomato-based sauce. The result is meat that is a bit spicier and tangier than Carolina style, though they also tend to use a dash of sugar.
Kansas/Kansas City BBQ: Beef, pork, and chicken are fair game in this region, and it all comes out delicious. Their sauce of choice is unique and is usually comprised of molasses, brown sugar, or both. Sweeter and thicker than the other regions’, KC sauce requires the meat to be cooked low and slow to ensure it doesn’t burn due to the sugar.
Texas BBQ: While Texas does use sauces, they’re mostly known for their bold rubs. And when we say bold, you should expect strong flavors like chili and mustard. If you’re looking for something other than beef, the Lone Star State is also known for its sausage thanks to its German population, and it’s always rated as some of the best links in the country.
Every holiday BBQ in America in any location is bound to have these foods:
- Corn on the Cob
- Baked Beans
- Potato Salad
- Hot Dog
Spend your holiday with CCBBQ!
If you love BBQ and especially the best, Central Texas style low and slow brisket, why not come celebrate with Caldwell County BBQ! Or if you want to celebrate in your own back yard, order up your BBQ and sides from us. Concentrate on having fun with your family and friends, and leave the food prep to the BBQ experts!