To many Americans, Labor Day is just a day for another cookout. For you, maybe it holds a celebration to end the summer or a day off to get backpacks ready for the first day of school. But Labor Day is so much more. While it is a great day for hamburgers, it is first a day to celebrate people who work, and a day to remember that all working requires a rest. This is a day to remember how, in the past, American working conditions were not so good.
History.com relates: "In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as five or six toiled in mills, factories, and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks."
We encourage you to visit history.com for more information on the history of Labor Day. It holds quite a fascinating story. But the bottom line is that today, we should certainly celebrate our current employee regulations. Since there is no better gift than having the day to yourself, let's choose to be thankful for the various ways we can observe Labor Day.
Of course, a cookout is always a fantastic idea, but you probably have that down. Let's talk about some ways to up the usual afternoon of grilling:
- Vamp Up the Dress and the Decor: Ask guests to come in red, white, and blue. Have a basket of red bandannas for the ladies to tie in their hair, honoring Rosie the Riveter. Suggest that men wear overalls or at least come casual. Post banners around the party space with "Did you know?" facts about Labor Day. For example:"Did you know that Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894?" or "Did you know that on September 5, 1882, the first Labor Day parade was held when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City?" Get out all your Independence and Memorial Day supplies because Labor Day begs for all the same colors!
- Go Charitable: We are so blessed to be part of a nation that celebrates the freedom of its workers. Perhaps while we are relaxing on our day off, we could gather funds to support the efforts to end modern day slavery. Although it is being discussed more often, it still exists. Perhaps you could start this now, in your neighborhood, at your workplace, at the community pool, or even just among your friends. Add every dollar together and reveal the final number on September 4th. Check out End Slavery Now and Ethical Trading Initiative for more information and ideas on how to get involved.
- Support Your Local Workers: While you may have the day off, many businesses will still be operating on Labor Day. Think about the cashiers at your favorite grocery store or the gas station attendant. If you go into any of these establishments, be sure to thank the employees for their help. Think of your community police officers, doctors, nurses, and firemen. These are some of the people who never get holidays off. They still work long hours to ensure that our lives are safer. Buy them a pizza for lunch, send flowers or a thank you card, or order a cake to make their day a little brighter.
However you decide to celebrate Labor Day, we wish you the very best!