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West Virginia Day or WV Day commemorates the date that West Virginia was admitted to the Union and became a member of the United States. It is usually held on June 20 each year held unless it falls on a Sunday, when it is observed on the following Monday.
West Virginia Day is a public holiday in West Virginia, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
A wide range of West Virginia Day events are arranged. Some may last for a few days or be held on a weekend close to June 20 to enable families to attend. There are festivities at the State Capitol in Charleston and a range of historic sites.
Events include: local arts festivals; serving roadside refreshments, such as a birthday cake and lemonade; displays of Civil War era crafts and industrial processes; exhibitions on the state's social, agricultural or industrial heritage; costume days and special guided tours; re-enactments of Civil War battles; the distribution of pins, caps and t-shirts promoting the state; and brunches, lunches and barbecues. Special offers on outdoor activities, such as swimming, rafting and guided hikes are also popular and serve to promote the beauty of the West Virginian landscape.
West Virginia Day is a state holiday in West Virginia and many state offices, libraries and schools are closed. Public transit services may operate to a reduced schedule or not operate at all, but stores and other businesses may be open. However, in other areas of the United States, West Virginia Day is not observed and public life on June 20 is not affected.
West Virginia is largely mountainous and was largely dense woodland. Before European explorers arrived, the area was a hunting ground for a range of Native American peoples and many ancient mounds are found. It is thought that the first European explorers arrived in the area in 1671 and the European settlement started around 1725. The modern state of West Virginia was created out of part of the British Virginia Colony, which became the state of Virginia.
The Blue Mountains form an impressive physical barrier between east and west in the area, particularly before the advent of motorized transport. This barrier was emphasized by different groups of European settlers that colonized the areas to the east and west of these mountains. During the early days of the state, there were some disagreements over the amount of funds allocated to development projects in the state's western and the eastern parts.
During the American Civil War, Virginia became sharply divided over if it should leave the United States and join the Confederate States. As a result of this and the early political and social divisions, 50 counties separated from Virginia and the state of West Virginia was created. On April 20, 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed that West Virginia would be admitted to the United States as a separate state 60 days later. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became a member of the Union. From 1864, West Virginia Day was celebrated informally and became a state holiday in 1927. If June 20 falls on a Sunday, West Virginia Day is observed on Monday June 21.
The state seal of West Virginia depicts two crossed rifles and a Phrygian or Liberty cap, representing the importance of fighting for liberty, in front of a boulder. A farmer with an ax and plow, representing agriculture, and a miner with a pickax, anvil and sledge hammer, representing industry, stand next to the boulder, which is inscribed with the date West Virginia, became a state: June 20, 1863. These images are surrounded by a ring with the words “State of West Virginia” and “Montani Semper Liberi” (Mountaineers Are Always Free), which is the state motto.
The state flag consists of a white background, representing purity, with a dark blue border symbolizing the United States. The image at the flag's center consists of similar elements to the state seal surrounded by the rhododendron, the state flower. Other symbols of West Virginia include: the cardinal (state bird); the sugar maple (state tree); the black bear (state animal); and the Golden Delicious apple (state fruit).
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