Is there a holiday on the calendar that is more misunderstood than Labor Day? What started as a Marxist observance for American labor has evolved into a final smooch on summer’s ripe lips. A three-day weekend to say farewell to lazy days and hello to pumpkin-spice-everything.
So as you fire up your grills today, here are ten interesting facts about America’s most misunderstood holiday:
The first Labor Day kicked off in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, but crunchy-granola Oregon was the first state to make it an official holiday in 1887–I didn’t even know people worked real jobs in Oregon.
The Central Labor Union, a Marxist organization, organized Labor Day to highlight “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”†
Americans clocked in seven day-workweeks and averaged 12-hour-days during the 19th Century.
Children as young as five were routinely sent to work in factories. Many otherstoiled on family farms. If anyone needed a three-day weekend…
We can thank the Adamson Act, passed on September 3, 1916, for our current model of the eight-hour workday.
Union membership is down. Today, 10.5% of workers belong to unions, or 14.7 million people. Compare this to 1983, the first year union data was compiled by the US Department of Labor when union membership was 20.1% with 17.7 million union members.
The National Education Association is the biggest union in America with 3 million active members.
Interestingly, the highest union membership by state goes to Hawaii and New York (23.1 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively).
The Carolina states clock in the lowest union jobs with 2.7 percent for both North and South.
But Labor Day isn’t just about work. It’s the end of Hot Dog Season. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports that Americans eat 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That’s a hell of a lot of wieners.
No White After Labor Day is a “rule” that originated with the wealthy class. After lavish summer vacations, the privileged would put away their light and airy summer togs (especially white and seersucker) and go back to the business of making money. Presumably in drab colors and heavy fabrics.
On Labor Day of 1955, the first Waffle House opened to the public. Finally, a hearty breakfast most American workers can afford.
Believe it or not, Virginia passed the Kings Dominion Law in 1986 to keep schools closed for the summer through Labor Day weekend so families can go to one of several amusement parks in the state.
Maryland passed a similar law in 2016 so that families can go to Ocean City, Maryland and leave their footprints (and their wallets) at the beach.
Enjoy the day whatever you choose to do–and thanks for reading!
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick