Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Today is the day we get to stay home from work, and often we celebrate with an end-of-summer cookout. But, really—is that all there is to Labor Day? I decided to investigate. According to the United States Department of Labor:

"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."

Well, OK. Yeah. I knew that. But...why? Why do we celebrate this? Who decided to start such a tradition?

"Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first in suggesting a day to honor those 'who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold'."

Huh. But what's with all the parades and brouhaha?

"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."

So there you have it. That's the true meaning of Labor Day. And I do believe, and I think Mr. McGuire would agree with me, that all of this also means you don't have to hit the gym today. 

Question: Are there any Labor Day traditions in your family? How are you celebrating? 

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