Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day


The first big Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union of New York.[1] It was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday in 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day. Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation's trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers' Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair, which it had been observed to commemorate. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

Pattern of celebration

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was 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", followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. Speeches or political demonstrations are more low-key than May 1 Labor Day celebrations in most countries, although events held by labor organizations often feature political themes and appearances by candidates for office, especially in election years. Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer recess. Similarly, some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school, although school starting times now vary.

End of summer

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. In high society, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable for women to wear white.

In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race was held that day from 1950 to 1983 in Darlington, South Carolina. At Indianapolis, the National Hot Rod Association hold their finals to the U.S. Nationals drag race.

In the U.S. most school districts that started summer vacation in early to mid-June will resume school near this day (while schools that had summer begin near Memorial Day will have already been in session for about 3 weeks).


This is more of an addition than a comment. When I was growing up in New Hampshire, the beaches literally closed up during the off season. They became more or less Ghost Towns. Back in the day, many people could afford two houses. One at the beach, and one inland where it was warmer in the winter (slightly). After Labor Day, beach businesses would close up on weekdays, and open again for the next four weekends, then close more or less until the following Memorial Day weekend. Labor Day signaled the end of the beach season, and Memorial Day was the beginning.

Also, after Labor Day, the summer residents began moving back to their inland homes. Only one out of five families stayed all winter long. Around Memorial Day weekend, they started to return.

In recent years, this has changed somewhat. As fewer and fewer people could afford two houses, they opted for a beach house (if they could afford a beach house, but not an inland house as well), and stayed the entire winter. As this went on and there were more people at the beaches in the winter, more businesses stayed open. However, if they can afford it, many people still leave the beach area in winter, and return in the summer, like migrating birds.

This may sound odd to Deep South and Southwest dwellers, but that's the way it was. In the winter, the Arctic Current flows past New England which makes the beaches at least ten degrees colder than the hinterlands. Many people from the Deep South and Southwest have no idea what it's like to wake up in the morning and find the snow is higher than your windows! Of course, you back East and up North comrades know exactly what I'm talking about!

To adults, this sucks because it means we have to dig ourselves out to get to work. To kids it's great because it means SNOW DAY! NO SCHOOL! I sure do remember snow days.

Dan 88!

1 comment:

  1. Well Dan as a Southerner I just had to let you know that in this area of North Carolina we live very much the way you described New Hampshire. Most of the people have homes in town and homes up on the lake too. We are only 3 hours to the beaches so they could go there too. My neighbor had a lake home before she died as well as many others in my neighborhood. The lowest price on one of those lake homes is $350,000 SO you know the people here aren't as destitute as you'd like to believe the dear old South to be. In fact, people are attracted to this area to retire and buy homes up on the lake. David (my ex boyfriend) well his Dad worked for IBM in Raleigh and bought a home up on the lake to retire. Most of the locals who own two houses go there for summer and winter.

    My neighborhood is middle class all white and this is just so you'll know. We have four seasons and because this is a higher elevation we don't really get the harsh weather that further south of here gets. We have mild seasons. We have those beautiful Carolina blue skies and hotter temperatures in the Fall than you might expect. Our peak foliage time is much later than in the Western part of the state. For example there have been times it was 70 degrees in December! It really doesn't get cold until January and February. March is windy, April rainy, May is beautiful Spring like weather. June, July and August are hotter than 40 hells and then September is a cooler month followed by a beautiful Fall. Our first frost is mid November and by December it's just cold enough to call it Christmas weather.

    We are within minutes of I 95 which will take you further South or slam up North so we are in an ideal place right on the Virginia Border situated between two of the larger cities with equal driving time an hour and half to Richmond VA or an hour and a half to Raleigh, NC