On Veteran’s Day, we think of those who served. On Memorial Day, we remember those who fell in battle. Heck, Columbus Day at least invigorates debate about whether or not the guy was a jerk. But come Labor Day we seemingly spend most of our time wondering whether it’s really that taboo to wear white later in the week. What’s that all about? Shouldn’t we focus more on what Labor Day’s really all about? While we’re on that subject: What’s Labor Day really all about?
Time Magazine chronicles a time in America when unions were on the rise: “When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of ‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,’ in the words of the official magazine of the American Federation of Labor, followed by a festival for workers and their families.”
“When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of ‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations…’”
It’s easy to forget that 100-150 years ago people were literally dying for a 40-hour workweek. Even the staunchest conservative can’t deny that the U.S. labor movement had positive effects on work conditions, wages, social structures, and overall quality of life. If you’re enjoying a day off today, you can thank a late 19th century labor leader for the privilege.
As for some facts: The first national Labor Day holiday took place in 1894, seven years after Labor Day was first made law in five states. The holiday falls in September because its first celebration coincided with a labor conference held in New York. Subsequent urgings to move Labor Day to May fell flat.
The holiday falls in September because its first celebration coincided with a labor conference held in New York.
One other note: Our friends up north in Canada also celebrate a Labo(u)r Day today and on every first Monday in September. Mexico’s version of the holiday falls on May Day, the first day of that month. So much for continental solidarity. And if you’re wondering, yes — you can still most definitely wear white next week.
It’s a holiday after all, so try disconnecting with the technology that can keep us tethered to work 24/7. Spend your time with those around you instead — we’re not saying permanently, just for a little time this weekend. Arianna Huffington supports you.
Image courtesy of iStock