There’s something ironic about celebrating the social and economic achievements provided by hard work through stopping it for a day, but that’s essentially what Labor Day does.
And I don’t mind: I’ll certainly take a paid holiday any time I can get it. (And in TV, there aren’t that many to be had.)
There is controversy over how Labor Day’s origins came to be. Two men with similar last names — McGuire and Maguire — are credited with being among the first to suggest a day to honor the working man.
What we do know is that the first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday: September 5, 1882 in New York City. It wasn’t a nationwide holiday until Congress passed an act making it one in 1894. Surely no one is surprised that Congress took a long time to accomplish something.
The original format of the holiday was this: 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.
That, apparently, was far too much work. I don’t recall ever seeing a Labor Day parade. And as for a “festival for workers and their families,” I’ve seen plenty of those — in the form of picnics and outings that the workers and their families organized themselves for their friends.
Even taking a day off for Labor Day, it seems, requires plenty of work.
Then there are all of the sales stores throw to take advantage of the opportunities provided by those who aren’t in the office or at the factory. Retail workers usually don’t care much for Labor Day all that much; they probably are stuck dealing with impatient folks who don’t feel like being in a store on a holiday any more than they do.
The biggest stress of Labor Day for the rest of us, though, is the notion that when work resumes on Tuesday, we’ll have to cram five days’ worth of work into just four.
It almost makes you want to skip the holiday altogether.