As Labor Day approached I got thinking I truly had no idea what the holiday meant. I mean, it marks the end of summer and the start of another school year (thank goodness). But I'm still not sure whether white shorts are allowed or not going into September. From what I understand the old fashion rule may no longer exist.
I'm not a complete idiot, as I realize Labor Day is a celebration of the American workforce, our ingenuity and our commitment to hard work in search of the all-American dream. But what initially prompted the federal holiday and has its purpose outlived its usefulness? I decided to do some research to find out.
According to a quick Google search and short list of results from dictionary sites, the annual event which always takes place on the first Monday in September, is devoted to the recognition of working people's contribution to society. The very first one took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882 in an unofficial capacity (given it wasn't until 1894 when Congress passed a bill making it a national holiday). It is also marks the official kickoff date for national political campaigns in the U.S.
As one Encyclopedia reference explains, it was initially conceived by union efforts in 1882 by Peter J. McGuire, a radical founder of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of New York.
While today's holiday is more often marked by barbeques, kids complaining about school starting and mothers celebrating a new school year, back in the early days (like the twenty-first century) there were Labor Day parades, rallies, festivals and speeches organized by labor unions.
As a Wikipedia page notes, "today Labor Day is often regarded simply as a day of rest and, unlike the May 1 Labor Day celebrations in most countries, parades, speeches or political demonstrations are rare." In fact it doesn't even mark the official end of summer or the start of school for many states anymore, as districts across the country begin a new year well before the holiday.
Here are some interesting factoids as well:
Labor Day came about following a general work strike that resulted in the creation of the business eight-hour workday as we know it today.
Since 1966 the holiday has marked the start of the annual telethon of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosted by Jerry Lewis.
When it comes to the 'white' fashion issue, it seems it was more an etiquette rule for men as it was believed white shoes after Labor Day were 'taboo.'
At this point it seems white shoes at anytime of the year for men are completely taboo. Which I think clearly provides a good enough reason for all of us to celebrate Labor Day.