Sunday, September 6, 2015

A busy, but not silent Sunday celebrating Labor Day (in US)


Today is the middle of a three day holiday in the US.  Labor Day, a legal holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September and it has come to mean many things.

For many in the US, it means white clothes are out, summer vacations and holidays are over, it's the symbolic end of summer, and work and school will resume on Tuesday.  Banks, libraries, post offices, the stock market, and municipal, state, and federal offices are closed in observance of this legal holiday.

It's fairly obvious I need to resume work at my home, but instead, I am about to join my friend Sally as we continue cleaning her garage and home.

While I often try to create a Labor Day post, even if it's just an image and good wishes, this year I'm interspersing what I know (or have learned) about Labor Day with photos of my front porch and early September flower bed.

Several projects I intended to create way back in April have fallen by the wayside, like the apple basket I had planned to use to plant geraniums in.

I've said this before, this is the time of year I'm ready to cut everything back in preparation for next year's new growth.

But we need to talk about Labor Day, because today is designated as a day of rest, not a day for dealing with this hideous flower bed.  I found it surprising to learn that Labor Day has a checkered past, one of violence, that’s deeply embedded in the history of the American labor movement. And while Labor Day has spread around the world in different forms, it has distinctly American roots, much like the roots that have spread in my front garden.

The modern holiday unofficially began on September 5, 1882, as I noted in 2010, when 10,000 workers took an unpaid day-off to honor the labor force of America. They marched from city hall to Union Square in New York City.  It was the first-ever Labor Day parade.

The idea for a general labor festival may have originated in Canada, which also celebrates “Labour Day” on the first Monday in September.   Initially, few people showed up, and organizers worried that workers had been reluctant to forgo a day’s pay to join the rally. But, by the end of the day an estimated 10,000 people had marched in the parade and joined festivities in what the press called “a day of the people.”

In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected to celebrate the holiday.  The following year many labor unions in larger cities in the US were asked to celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date.

Although celebrated at many local levels, in 1887, Oregon was the first to declare Labor Day a holiday.  A few other states soon followed.  American working culture was quite different at the end of the 19th century as the Industrial Revolution was beginning to take shape and labor unions began to form.  Child labor, long daily work hours, no weekends off, and unsafe working conditions were some of the complaints that led to the labor movement.  By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers.   President Grover Cleveland, amid growing concern of the problem chose the September date for the Federal holiday (more on that later), and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Until Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, workers were not paid if they chose to participate in parades and celebrations.

As I was searching the internet to update the information I've shared in the past, I found a very interesting article about "International Workers Day."  It is also known as International Labor Day and celebrated all over the world on May 1 each year.  Its purpose is to celebrate "social and economic achievements of workers."

According to the same site above, many countries celebrate the event.  India and the UK celebrate spring and fertility.  In the US and UK, it's considered a Federal Holiday.  So, what, you ask does this have to do with Labor Day in the US, which is celebrated in September?

This certainly looks like a September and not a May garden, so how can these two celebrations be confused?

At its national convention in Chicago, Illinois (IL) in the US, held in 1884, by the group later known as the American Federation of Labor or AFL, they declared that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886." 

Then a horrible event I had never heard of before occurred that was known as the Haymarket Massacre, which took place on May 4, 1886.  As part of a rally in Chicago, where workers were showing support for the shorter work day, there was a horrible massacre that included killing seven police officers and four civilians after a bomb was thrown into the crowd.

What ensued was a witch hunt, a trial, and an eventual pardon by a new governor of IL.   According to Time.com:
In the wake of the Haymarket Affair, Union leaders and socialists declared May 1 as International Workers’ Day, and the day was and continues to be unofficially observed in the U.S. It’s also that date that most other countries officially or unofficially observe as a holiday in honor of workers. But when President Grover Cleveland moved to create a national labor holiday, he chose to avoid the thorny history of that May date. 
Now you know why my garden looks like a thorny September, why President Cleveland chose the September date, and why it will soon be Labor Day.

So now it's time to wish all my friends, followers, and readers who live in the US, a very happy Labor Day.  Enjoy your final summer festival with a picnic, fireworks, binge on TV marathons, or spend time at the lake or beach.  Of course, you'll find me working, and don't even bother asking me about the "long hours" and "low wages!"

Since so many of you visit every day, for all my international readers,

happy porte bonheur (loosely translated "carry happiness") Monday from Bleubeard and Elizabeth.   

15 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

A very interesting and informative post today, Elizabeth, it was good to learn about the history of your Labor Day, and to see the photos of your lovely house and garden. Here in Germany May 1st is celebrated. I hope you find the strength to do your gardening after all the work you are doing with Sally. I have had a lazy afternoon watching a Jane Austen Film. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

Krisha said...

Happy Labor Day E!...... a day early, but was roaming through the blogs I follow, before getting started with getting the laundry done.
Hope you and Sally are making progress with the garage.....mine is still a work in progress.....I keep stopping to clean up something else....LOL

I love all the information you posted about this holiday. We tend to forget just how it started, and I don't think they even teach about it in schools anymore......so sad.

Thanks for all the links you have been leaving me. I haven't made it around to all of them yet. I've been busy cleaning and sorting my crafting space, but will definitely be visiting them and probably tons more.....*grin*

Divers and Sundry said...

Happy Labor Day! Your September garden still looks lush and green.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Happy Labor Day Elizabeth! We celebrate it on May 1 th in Austria!
I love to see your beautiful house and I am in love with this porch---
Hope you manage to do your gardening, I did my work in garden yesterday and today.... I am so happy that our garden isn't quite big... I am not so goog in doing gardenwork and it's not my favourite thing.
oxo
Susi

Jo Murray said...

Happy Labour Day! Thanks for all the info. You have such a pretty home

Rita said...

I didn't know all of that. Hope you have a nice Labor Day. :)
Your yard looks so green!

dawn said...

Hello Elizabeth! I always learn so much from you, thank you for that. I had now idea about all of these details, too sad about the massacre but neat to learn all the information.

LOVE LOVE seeing your porch and garden, so GREEN!! and PRETTY! I too am ready for Rich to take down the garden now, too weedy for my taste. The sunflowers are still looking amazing though, YAY!! Did I tell you we won't be getting pumpkins this year, you know how much I love them. Rich messed up and lost the seeds and forgot and so we don't have any.

I just posted for T Day while I had the time, please link me up when you make your post or whenever it's good for you. If you can't I will do it sometime Tuesday morning. Thank you! Wait till you see the post, it will make you SMILE!!

Take care and wish you could rest on Labor Day, don't work too hard.

My name is Erika. said...

Love the history of Labor Day-I didn't know any of that. And really enjoyed the photos of your house too. Always so informative to see bits and pieces of the people who write the blogs. Enjoy your Labor Day!

johanna said...

hope you had a very happy labour day, elizabeth! here it is celebrated on may 1th, so in some years it is on the Weekend and that means no extra day off work.
it really was interesting to read your informative historical Details concerning this day.
well, including "end of summer"... that definitely happened here. we have cold temperatures now, a big difference to the heat we had during this summer! i´m tempted to bring my winter clothes out of the closet. wearing warm socks. well, won´t complain, the heat was worse on the other side...

pearshapedcrafting said...

Hope your Labor Day wasn't all work! I love your porch - I am always so envious of American porches and verandas! A very interesting post too! Hugs, Chrisx

Monica said...

May Day holiday was tradional through europe in middle ages. In 1915 it was initiated in the soviet union in the days after the revolution as a workers holiday and a time for demonstrations. The soviets used it to take over a christian holiday and celebration and a show of power. Think it is toned down now. it was one of those boring military things and China has the same. Dancing round a mypole and get drunk on the village green was a lot more fun and picturesque.

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

Always a wonderful history lesson, or geography lesson here. Thanks. xox

Nan G said...

Happy Labor Day, Elizabeth! The Girls and I sort of relaxed. Well, they did and I was busy digging out stamps from all the boxes getting ready to finally organize them. Then doing the few thin metal dies I've kept. My goal is too have the craft fully unpacked, organized and ready for crafting by the end if September. Wish me luck. Hugs to you and the Boys from me and the Girls. :) 0:)

Sharon Fritchman said...

Hi Elizabeth! I was so interested in reading your psot and learning more about Labor Day! And I loved seeing the photos of your beautiful front porch! I always wanted a front porch and would picture it to look just like yours! And WOW! Your garden is amazing!!!!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Interesting post for T Tuesday. Long hours and low wages for your garage work...but you have the plus of a good friend.

My weekend flew by, having DD and her boyfriend here all weekend. Besides getting ready for my trip which I am getting closer to spilling the beans, I have had little time time to visit blogs let alone post. Plus the return of 90 degree weather and humidity has just worn me out!