It’s over. Summer, that is. Because Labor Day is here. Since Labor Day occurs just before the autumnal equinox, around back-to-school time, and during the last month of the fiscal year, the federal holiday signifies summer’s unofficial end. Out with the white shoes, in with the black. No more vacation, no more very hot weather, let’s get back to serious work. In short, bring on the year. That’s what Labor Day is about these days. So where is the “labor “ in Labor Day?
Labor Day started in the late 1880’s as a trade and labor union effort to have a commemoration day for laborers. To show appreciation for hard work, for diligence, for commitment. This idea preceded the all-encompassing labor movement’s campaigns to end the sweatshop culture, prevent child labor, and lobby for work condition legislation. The movement’s efforts were successful, and today we take these ideas for granted, as do most Western countries. Workers have rights – it’s a given.
So, today, Labor Day isn’t so much about celebrating a job well done, or striving for labor-friendly laws, but rather getting a vacation day for workers. And since it was deliberately declared for a Monday, everyone benefits from the long weekend.
Therefore, the question arises: What does Labor Day mean for you? How can you best take advantage of this Monday holiday, if not the entire three-day bridge?
Here are some choices:
- Take advantage of Labor Day sales.
- Go on a weekend jaunt.
- Stick with a beach staycation.
- Enjoy a regular weekend, with an extended “second Sunday.”
- Wax philosophical about the meaning of labor.
- Read Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.
- Learn more about workers’ rights issues that still need addressing.
Labor Day, like Independence Day, and Presidents’ Day, lost its original meaning for most Americans. Yet, each are federal holidays in their own right, and are therefore an opportunity to connect with the meaning of the holiday. The advantage is that meanings can change with the times, and therefore if the “labor” part of Labor Day is different now than it was at the turn of the 20th century, so be it. Make Labor Day meaningful for you, however you choose to do so.
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