How did we get a day off… for LABOR DAY?

Have you ever wondered why we get a day off work on the first Monday of September to celebrate Labor Day?

The thought crossed our minds this past Friday as we were doing our radio show and letting folks know we would be back in the studio on Tuesday morning.

It seems kind of odd, doesn’t it? We celebrate working men and women– by not working.

There are 10 federal holidays in the US in most years (the exception being Inauguration Day). These are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • George Washington’s Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Labor Day was first celebrated as an official public holiday in 1887 in Oregon as a state holiday. By the time it became a federal, or nationwide, holiday in 1894, 30 total states were already celebrating the day.

The Unofficial End of Summer

So, while you may be planning to rearrange your wardrobe so that you aren’t wearing white after Monday (still not quite sure on that tradition), this 3-day weekend for many marks the “end” of summer— even though Fall doesn’t begin until September 23. Summer breaks for students are coming to an end, some states even have laws that say school can’t resume until after the holiday. Many people try to take vacations that anchor around this holiday.

But how did it start?

The years prior to Oregon’s recognition were marked by a massive change to the United States.

Think of how old you were 22 years ago (1997).

Does it seem like that long ago?

If we were to ask the same question to people living in 1887, they would remember the ending of the American Civil War.

Those years were marked not only by Reconstruction, but also by a time referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution. Rail and telegraph networks began to weave across the country. Electricity was beginning to permeate cities. Edison and others were lighting the night.

It was also a time of fledgling labor unions, strikes, anarchists, socialists, capitalists, Pinkerton guards and police forces swirling into storms that sometimes resulted in violence. One such incident happened in May of 1886 in Chicago at the Haymarket Square, when there was a bomb detonated at a protest, resulting in police and protesters exchanging gunfire.

After some time had passed, President Grover Cleveland supported the idea of the September commemoration that many New York unions celebrated to distance the holiday from the violence and ideas of the Haymarket affair. The New York unions held parades and picnics as a “general holiday for the laboring classes.” It was halfway between the celebrations of July 4 and Thanksgiving, and it generally had nice weather.

There are other stories around the origin of the holiday, as well.

Because, of course there are.

This isn’t supposed to be a political blog, but simply informative.

Well, informative and encouraging.

What are you working for?

How do I mean that?

Do I mean: “What are you working for per hour?”

Or do I mean: “What is the big goal you are working for at work?”

Maybe it’s: “What are you working for in life?”

Those are all fair questions.

For the first: what are you doing to make your time more valuable every day? Do you have a discipline of growth that enables you to deliver more value to your work, your family, friends, etc.?

What about the second question? What’s one big thing you are working on that gets you excited about what you are doing? Why does it make you feel that way?

The last question deals in purpose.

Have you ever paused, taking time to consider what your legacy will be? All of your pages aren’t written yet, and hopefully you still have many pages to fill. But even if you don’t… how do you want that story to end? How will people read the story of that character?

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