What is Labor Day anyway and what are we really celebrating? Most people will rush to say we are giving a nod to the end of the summer. As a kid, this confused me because summer doesn’t end until three weeks later and the name has nothing to do with barbecues and beaches. Adults get the day off from work so shouldn’t it be named Lazy Day?
Feeling a bit slow to the gate and needing a history lesson, I did a little googling to understand this holiday better. I now know that the holiday started in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland convinced congress to approve the holiday in order to boost his poll rating. Apparently he had just summoned U.S. marshals to break up a labor strike and this resulted in the death of some railroad workers…probably a lot of angry Philadelphians at the time considering our ties to the railroad industry around here.
This tidbit of knowledge will help me at an upcoming Labor Day soiree and it explains why we put a positive spin on this time of year. A long time ago we needed a distraction from anger and bloodshed so we redefined Labor Day to mean a time to commemorate the lazy days of summer and salute the upcoming season change.
It’s still a bittersweet holiday. Sadly, we close the barbecue pits, fold up the beach towels and dust off the school lunch boxes. But on a positive note, now we can focus on opening our tailgates for football season!
Happy Lazy… Labor Day!