Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. Did you know that in high society, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable to wear white or seersucker? In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons.
NCAA teams usually play their first games the weekend of Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. In parts of the country, most school districts that started summer vacation 1-2 weeks into June will resume school the day after this holiday while schools that had summer vacation begin on the Saturday before Memorial Day in late May will have already been in session since late August. So, however you are spending your last weekend of the summer, take a moment and think about why we celebrate it in the first place.
Acknowledge the power of labor, for, as Sophocles said, “Without labor, nothing prospers.” But, at the same time, appreciate your day without labor. Take note from Ovid: “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Recognition of the workers was inspired by the labor movement and Canada’s observation of labor festivals. The first federal observation of the holiday occurred in 1894.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
To take advantage of large numbers of potential customers free to shop, Labor Day has become an important sale weekend for many retailers in the United States. Some retailers claim it is one of the largest sale dates of the year, second only to the Christmas season’s Black Friday.
Ironically, because of the importance of the sale weekend, some of those who are employed in the retail sector not only work on Labor Day, but work longer hours. More Americans work in the retail industry than any other, with retail employment making up 24 percent of all jobs in the United States. As of 2012, only 3 percent of those employed in the retail sector were members of a labor union.
Many people travel over the holiday since it is viewed as the “last weekend of summer.” Las Vegas tops the list of places Americans are expected to visit over Labor Day weekend. Hello, people, do you know the forecast to reach a scorching 93 degrees? Maybe everyone is counting on pool parties to cool things down.
Seattle, not surprisingly, will be among the coolest places to spend the Sept. 7 holiday with a predicted high of 68 degrees.
Here are the Top Ten Labor Day destinations from travel website Expedia. It ranked cities based on most-searched destinations for Labor Day weekend: 1. Las Vegas, Nevada; 2. New York City, New York; 3. Cancún, Mexico, 4. Orlando, Florida; 5. Chicago, Illinois; 6. Los Angeles, California; 7. San Francisco, California; 8. Miami, Florida; 9. Seattle, Washington; and 10. Washington, D.C.
Where will you be celebrating? Perhaps a family barbeque, a trip to the amusement park, or you will make it a “day of rest” and enjoy your home surroundings. Enjoy the “last weekend of the summer!”
Vickie Rhodehamel is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her Arcanum community column. She can be reached by calling 937-692-6188, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.