By the time you read this, Labor Day 2012 will be just a memory. I started pulling ideas together for this Now You Know It last week, at a time when, judging from the abrupt downturn in phone calls and emails, it seemed like just about everyone was on vacation. I decided to take a few minutes to research some facts about Labor Day. Here is some of what I learned.
The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, and was planned by the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the Labor Day observance was moved to the first Monday in September. By 1885, with the growth of labor unions, observance of the “workingmen’s holiday” had spread to many cities throughout the nation. The first state to adopt legislation officially recognizing Labor Day was Oregon, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. It was not until 1894 that the U.S. Congress designated Labor Day as a federal holiday, to be celebrated on the first Monday in September.
Labor Day is the day when we recognize the contributions made by American workers to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country. While early Labor Day celebrations included parades and speeches, current celebrations tend to be less formal.
While many consider Labor Day the unofficial end of summer, that won’t really happen until Friday, September 21, 2012. And what a summer it has been. Although the final statistics will not be known until after September 21, it is a safe bet to say that Summer 2012 will rank among the hottest and driest on record. In June alone, more than 170 all-time heat records had been tied or broken nationwide. (Mind you, these records historically included the typically hotter and dryer months of July and August.) By early July, more than half of the contiguous United States was experiencing drought. Recent reports warn of impending shortages and increases in food prices due to the loss of corn and other crops. Livestock has been hurried to market because farmers have no way to feed their herds. Global warming? Cyclical variations? The debate goes on, with all sides pointing to evidence in support of either theory. All I know is that it’s been hot.
For the fashion conscious, Labor Day has historically been considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable to wear white. Labor Day also marks the end of the vacation and travel season for many, the return to work, and the resumption of schedules and a pace of life that had been left to slide just a bit, not all that many months ago. But Labor Day is not all about things ending. It also marks the beginning of such things as the new school year, and the NFL and college football seasons.
Here’s a sobering thought: unless your employer honors Columbus Day (Monday, October 8) or Veterans Day (Monday, November 12), the next federal holiday that offers an extended weekend for the vast majority of us will be Thanksgiving!
I hope your Labor Day was restful and rejuvenating. Welcome back to the workaday world! For more information concerning Labor Day, please visit: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm