National First Ladies Day is a beautiful day — one to step back and honor the influential women who have stood beside American presidents through the centuries. We often fail to consider the unique contributions and roles of the First Ladies in shaping the nation. From Martha Washington to the present, each First Lady has brought her unique style, grace, and influence to the White House. Each has also left her indelible mark on American history.
History of National First Ladies Day
The role of the First Lady in the United States has evolved so much since Martha Washington became the first in 1789. Initially, the role was largely ceremonial. The earliest First Ladies acted as hostesses and homemakers. However, as the nation grew and population and society changed, so did the responsibilities and influence of the nation’s First Lady.
In the mid-20th century, First Ladies began taking on more active political and social roles. Eleanor Roosevelt, for instance, was incredibly outspoken on civil rights causes and was keenly involved in her husband’s administration. Jacqueline Kennedy brought a sense of high style and culture to the White House, throwing lavish galas that were the talk of the town. Nancy Reagan was known for her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. In more recent years, Laura Bush campaigned for children’s literacy, and Michelle Obama became a champion for healthy living and education.
National First Ladies Day falls upon the last Saturday in April each year, and acknowledges these women’s diverse and significant contributions to American society, politics, and culture.
How to Celebrate National First Ladies Day
Host a First Ladies Tea Party
Invite close friends over for a tea party where each guest comes dressed as a different First Lady. Share facts about each First Lady’s life and contributions. Decorate the space with portraits or symbols associated with some of the First Ladies. Serve dishes or desserts that were First Lady favorites. This tea party can be a delightful way to celebrate and learn more about the unique stories of America’s First Ladies.
First Ladies Trivia Night
Host a trivia night focused solely on First Ladies. Include questions about their initiatives, personal stories, and unique contributions to the White House. Offer First Lady-inspired prizes or books about First Ladies to keep it lighthearted.
Visit Historical Sites
Visit historical sites related to First Ladies, such as their home cities, libraries, or museums. These visits help build a connection to history and provide a better understanding of their legacies. Traveling not an option? Then, perhaps take a few virtual tours of these historic treasures from the comfort of home.
Spend an afternoon reading biographies or memoirs of a favorite First Lady. This can provide a deeper understanding of their lives and the challenges they faced. Biographies of First Ladies offer a unique angle through which to view American history and politics.
There are numerous documentaries that explore First Ladies’ lives and impacts. Watching these can be both informative and inspiring. Organize a viewing party or a documentary marathon, and follow it up with a discussion or debate about the evolving role of the First Lady in American politics and society.
Volunteer for Causes Championed by First Ladies
Many First Ladies have been known for their charitable work. Volunteering for a cause close to a First Lady’s heart is a meaningful way to celebrate. Research the various initiatives and charities supported by different First Ladies and choose one that resonates. This act of service not only honors their legacy but also contributes positively to the community.
Create Art Inspired by First Ladies
For those artistically inclined, creating artwork inspired by First Ladies or their causes can be a unique way to honor them. This could include painting, sculpture, digital art, or even crafting. Host an exhibition of these artworks in the community or online to share these creative tributes with others and spark conversations about the First Ladies’ influences.
Social Media Tribute
Use social media platforms to share quotes, images, or stories about any favorite First Ladies and their accomplishments. Create engaging content like infographics, short videos, or blog posts highlighting their achievements and challenges. This digital celebration can reach a broad audience and inspire others to learn more about these remarkable women.
Educational Activities for Kids
For those with children, organizing educational activities or crafts related to First Ladies can be a fun way to teach them about these influential women. Create interactive games, puzzles, or storytelling sessions that bring the stories of the First Ladies to life for young minds. These activities can be educational and entertaining, fostering an early interest in history and civic engagement.
Write a Letter of Gratitude
Write a letter expressing gratitude to a still-living First Lady, acknowledging her contributions and impact. This personal gesture can be a powerful way to express appreciation for her service.