Why do we Celebrate Labor Day?
In the United States, Labor Day is always celebrated on the first Monday in September – the transition from summer to fall. As kids, we remember that Labor Day signified our return to school from our summer vacation. As adults, we put away our white slacks and shoes and prepare the grill for that last barbecue of the season. It is a looked-forward to three-day weekend from our chores or work, planning that last picnic or trek to the beach.
Labor Day originated in 1882 as a movement to recognize the efforts of the average working man. Always observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day was the idea of Peter J. Maguire (although recent research has shown that it might have been his brother Matthew’s idea), a labor union leader who proposed a celebration honoring the American worker. Although there is some discrepancy as to who gets credit for initiating the holiday, it was the Central Labor Union that held the first celebration on September 5, 1882 in New York City.
Although the day’s focus on organized labor has diminished over the years, the holiday has become a way to mark the end of the summer season—and the start of the school year.
Labor Day was originally celebrated by parades, demonstrations and rallies of workers banding together, Today, it is celebrated by family barbecues, major department store sales, and the joy of a three-day week-end.
It is celebrated for workers’ contributions for workers throughout America and Canada. Examples of accomplishments of the labor union movement include the eight hour work day, 2-day weekends, minimum wage, and decent working conditions. This is a far cry from the 58 hour week of old, although many people still work those hours!
Labor Day is a good day to reflect on the past summer and the advancing fall. Since it’s the time in between these two seasons and a break from work, it’s beneficial to just kick off your shoes and relax. We work hard all year and this day of celebrating and recognizing those efforts and the mantra of the day is R-E-S-T.
Rest is very important to our wellness and health. If you are working too hard or looking tirelessly for a new one job, and don’t get enough rest, you compromise your immune system and open the door to illness and disease. As important as work is to our lives, rest is imperative, too.
God directs us to rest in His Book of Guidance and even He rested. God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. Thus, the Sabbath day; the anointed day of rest. Genesis 2:2-3.
It makes perfect sense that our bodies and minds require rest after periods of hard work; we are created in His image. It is for our own good that God gave us His example of resting and commanded us to rest and be refreshed, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
This Labor Day weekend, be kind to yourself. Put work in the backseat and enjoy your family, loved ones and friends. Refresh yourself. When the weekend is over, you will be ready to pick up your work again. Your rest will give you added focus and energy.
Have a wonderful, relaxing, and renewable weekend. Travel safe if you are going out of town.
© Marie Coppola Revised August 2017