Labor Day marks the end of summer. It used to be the last day it was acceptable to wear white or seersucker, but I’m pretty sure that’s changed. When I lived back east, school started after Labor Day.
Oddly enough, Labor Day is also the second largest shopping day of the year. Second only to Black Friday after Thanksgiving. Retail workers make up the largest workforce in American and they don’t have Labor Day off. In fact, they usually work longer hours.
I was surprised to learn that the federal Labor Day holiday was enacted to assuage the government’s guilt following the Pullman Strike in which several workers were killed at the hands of the US Military and the US Marshals. In fact, Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law only six days after the end of the strike.
By the time the federal holiday was official, 30 states already had some version of a Labor Day which was put together by labor unions. They used it as a recruiting tool. It helped bring more paying members into the union. Labor Day was outlined to include a parade to show the strength of trade and labor workers, followed by a festival for workers and their families.
Some years I do this. I search for the origin or reason for something and then I realize that I don’t want to know the answer. It would be great if Labor Day was a celebration of the worker, if stores closed and allowed retail workers to spend time with their families too, but that’s not going to happen.
Labor Day marks the end of summer. For some, it is about road trips, salt water taffy and time with family and friends, unless you’re in retail. It’s the last day to wear white, if you are fortunate enough to have seasonal wardrobes.
The how and the why it became official may be suspicious or marred by tragedy, politics and very little to do with workers, but as with many things, we gloss it up.
Shopping. It can now be about shopping and profits and haggard, overworked sales people.
See, I really wish I hadn’t wondered.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Put Your Feet Up.