Friday Fun: Labor Day

I know most of my readers/commenters are Americans, and as Monday is Labor Day, I figured what better topic for a Friday Fun post than Labor Day itself?

Practically every American “celebrates” Labor Day in some shape or form; some go to barbecue parties (usually the last one of the season!), some just chill at home, and some plan in advance to take advantage of the holiday sales (what is it with Americans and our holiday sales anyway?).  But do you actually know what Labor Day is all about?  I have to admit my own ignorance – I was never really sure.  So I did some googling and came up with this:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

I’ll save my thoughts on what that says about America and her materialism for another day (‘cuz, y’all, this is supposed to be a Friday FUN post!), but it’s definitely interesting to read all of that.

Growing up, Labor Day was always the last big family party of the summer.  Barring an unexpected special occasion (like a wedding or some such), my family probably wouldn’t get together like that again until Thanksgiving.  So for me, it was always something to look forward to.  My grandmother and I would start the day by cleaning the house and mowing the lawn if it needed it.  Then we’d get to chopping veggies and preparing dishes.  Barbecues in our family were usually quintessential American fare: burgers, hot dogs, sausages (here’s where our Polish ancestry showed through: sausages were always Polish and Bratwurst), and usually a few pieces of chicken.  Along with all the cold stuff: the potato salad, the coleslaw.  Chips and dip were on offer, of course, but so were chopped raw veggies (I was always partial to the cucumbers and sweet peppers myself).  Usually somebody would bring a dessert of some sort – maybe a fruit jello or a fruit salad.  My grandmother and I would usually make the main courses but everybody brought something to the party.  (Made it a hell of a lot easier on us, that’s for sure!)  Music would be played, children would play games in the (HUGE!!) backyard, and it would mainly be a relaxed day of food, conversation, and companionship.  I, of course, being younger, would inevitably have to field questions to the effect of: “So, you excited to be going back to school?”

Unfortunately, the older I got, the more scattered my family became (aunts and uncles moving to far corners of the country; people dying), and so the Labor Day family tradition became less and less of a tradition.  And now?  Hardly anybody in my family gets together for Labor Day anymore.  But I remember those Labor Days of my youth with a smile.

So… ya got any plans?  Parties?  Staying at home?  Shopping like mad wo/men?

Spill!  😀

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4 Responses

  1. You forgot to mention the pasta salad @ the bbqs ;o)
    I remember the beer brats yum!

  2. Jessie, OMG!!! Hiya! *waves* *hugs* …. *more hugs*

    And you’re right…. how could I forget? *I* was the one that usually made them!!!! 😀

  3. heh heh – for some reason my Brit hubby was STILL surprised to get the Labor Day holiday off this year!?!?! (after 11 yrs over here)
    No special plans, I was mostly resting up from last weekend’s whirlwind of activity…

  4. You made em and I ate em 😛
    good times!

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