What does Labor Day mean to you? I like to pretend it is another way of acknowledging mothers, like a variation of Mother’s day. After all, I gave birth to my son on labor day. There must be something about me and delivering my babies on holidays because my daughter was born on the 4th of July. If I had more children, I wonder what holidays they would have graced? But I know it isn’t about giving tribute to mothers although it could include mothers as workers.
Labor Day, the first Monday of September, is a creation of the labor movement, set aside to honor the contributions of American workers who take pride in their work, no matter what they do. Labor Day originated as a dedication to the social and economic achievements of workers. At the time of the first street parade during the height of the industrial revolution, workers were putting in 12 hour workdays, seven days a week. Work often happened in deplorable conditions including employment of children. On Sept. 5, 1882, in NYC the first Labor Day rally was held in support of an 8 hour workday. The form of the holiday was determined to be as a street parade to demonstrate to the public the strength of the trade and labor organizations.
We may think that times have changed and in many ways they have, but as we follow the news we still hear about labor unions fighting for employee benefits and workers striking for higher wages and better benefits. The holiday has taken on many different meanings over the years. Towns, cities and communities still celebrate with a street parade which is so much fun for children. Parades give school bands an opportunity to march and perform. People wave flags and kids eat ice cream. The entire history of the American Labor Movement is hardly taught in schools today so how would today’s generation know differently?
Labor Day Means A Long Weekend
Schools used to start after Labor Day so the holiday was unofficially thought of as the end of summer. For those areas where school starts in August, the Labor Day weekend becomes the first day off from school. So whether it be a day off, a long weekend, end of summer, a town parade, community barbeque, a day of rest or start of football season, does it still resonate with the original intent of the holiday? Do we think about the people who work in retail and restaurants on this day? In fact, Labor Day has become one of the largest retail sales day due to the huge number of potential customers free to shop.
Will You Wear White After Labor Day?
The custom of not wearing white started right after the civil war. It was established as a silly fashion rule by old money people to separate themselves from new money people. They only wore white after labor day to weddings and to resorts. There are still many women who fashionably adhere to this rule without any notion where or why it was established. Just think about yourself and your habit?
Let’s Get Back to Why We Celebrate Labor Day
Labor Day was established as a way to pay tribute to working men and women who worked hard for a better life. Sound familiar? This value is still alive and well as an integral part of the American dream and our every day lives. Whether you are someone who works multiple jobs or someone who strikes out on their own as an entrepreneur; whether you work hard for yourself or to provide more opportunities for your children and grandchildren. So as we approach Monday, September 5th, 2014, think of yourself, your family and what you wish to acknowledge yourself for. How can you express appreciation to those around you, including yourself, who do their best to provide a good life?