Take a Break This Labor Day

Posted by Webb on 08/29/2008

There's been a lot of talk this week about the working class in America due to the Democratic Convention and nomination of Barack Obama, so it seems appropriate this is Labor Day weekend.

Since Country Music and the working class go hand-in-hand I thought a little lesson on what Labor Day is about would be appropriate. 

Labor Day is always observed on the first Monday in September.  Labor Day originated in 1882 when the Central Labor Union of New York City created "a day off for the working citizens".

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 by act of Congress (no gridlock then), and all 50 states have since adopted it as a state holiday as well.

For most people Labor Day is a symbolic end of summer too.  I can remember times when school actually did not start until after Labor Day. 

In addition, Labor Day marks the beginning of the season for the National Football League and NCAA College Football. The NCAA usually plays their first games the weekend of Labor day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

The Knights of Labor organized the original Labor Day parade on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. In 1884 another parade was held, and the Knights passed resolutions to make this an annual event. Other labor organizations (and there were many), but notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association, many of whom were socialists or anarchists, favored a May 1 holiday. In 1886 came the general strike which eventually won the eight-hour workday in the United States.

These events are today commemorated as Labor Day in virtually every country in the world, with the notable exceptions being the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. With the Chicago Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, President Grover Cleveland believed that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus, fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he quickly moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day.

Here are some popular Labor Day traditions:

Since 1966, the annual telethon of the Muscular Dystrophy Association has been held on Labor Day weekend. The telethon, hosted by Jerry Lewis, raises tens of millions of dollars each year to fund research and patient support programs for the various diseases grouped as muscular dystrophy.

Labor Day weekend also marked the annual running of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. The race was run at any time during the weekend from 1950-2002. In 2004, NASCAR began racing on Labor Day weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Chicago's Taste of Polonia, the city's largest Polish-themed festival celebration of Polish cultural heritage, traditions, and customs on the grounds of the Copernicus Foundation in Jefferson Park. Bringing in crowds well over 30,000 each year, Taste of Polonia has welcomed notable guests such as President George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Vice-President Dick Cheney, Mrs. Tipper Gore, and Mrs. Hadassah Lieberman in 2000[2].

Boomsday, one of the biggest fireworks displays in the Southeastern United States, has been held annually on Labor Day since 1986 in Knoxville, Tennessee; it attracts over 350,000 spectators.

Mackinac Bridge Walk is an annual event held every Labor Day since 1958 in Michigan in which people may walk the length of the Mackinac Bridge.

Mustaches on the River is an annual event that takes place Labor Day weekend. Traditionally participants grow mustaches for this float down the Russian River in Healdsburg, California. Mustaches are judged at the end of the day and all proceeds benefit charity. The event is seen by its participants as an exercise in self image and free expression.

And finally tradition has it that wearing white after Labor Day is poor fashion, but as with many traditions, that is changing and has become acceptable.

Whatever your Labor Day tradition, I hope you have a dog gone good one, don't work like a dog, and are dog-tired from having fun when its all over!  Woof!

Source:  Wikipedia