Put Your Toes in the Sand and Celebrate the All-American Holiday: Labor Day

Put Your Toes in the Sand and Celebrate the All-American Holiday: Labor Day

Sep 03, 2023

The end of summer and the end of a legendary life.

Every year, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and in this year of 2023, it marked the peaceful passing of an American icon, Jimmy Buffett. It's serendipitous from a cultural sense and fits perfectly in the study of American history in my opinion.

Buffett's laid-back vibe sets the scene for summer cookouts and long days filled with sun. Many of us have memories set to his soundtrack, especially when we think back on Labor Days of our past.

His music and legacy will live on and many Americans will continue to celebrate Labor Day as the end of summer and time to "get to work," start school and shift into a new phase of being.

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sunset on the beach to mark the end of summer

Beyond the barbecue grill, what's the origin of Labor Day?

First off, it's 100% an American holiday, created to celebrate and honor the American workforce.

It became a federal holiday in 1894, when industrialization and labor movements were happening as the 19th century was coming to a close. Long workdays, limited restrictions and protections, even for children, gave momentum to the labor unions we see today.

You can read more about the start of the movement here.

We can thank Congress (of 1894) and President Grover Cleveland for signing the Labor Day holiday into law.

quote from President Grover Cleveland about American labor.

How is Labor Day celebrated?

Living in Michigan (formerly the Virginia territory of course!) from ages 12-50, I have lots of memories, well summed-up by Kidd Rock LOL. Don't take it too literally though, not every Michigan kid did EVERY thing he mentions...

But yes, all my life Labor Day signified the end of summer and a time to go all out on summer-ish things like cookouts, cold beer, and margaritas (as I hit my 20s of course).

As I got older it took on a deeper meaning into having more time focused on family by having Monday off. Of course, that wasn't always the case, but that's a whole other discussion that led me to blogging and the Free At 50 brand.

I suppose in that sense, it is a true reminder of it's original intent: taking a break and enjoying a bit of freedom from "work." And it's not just me... with the pandemic came something truly historical: the Great Resignation.

Back to celebrating Labor Day: it's not just cookouts. Parades are a classic way to honor the day. Most large cities do it and many small ones too. Before it was even recognized as a federal holiday, celebrations prompted and encouraged by labor unions were being had.

The first Labor Day parade was a strike! It was a September 5th 1882 March in New York City. Thousands of American workers took to the streets and marched from City Hall to Union Square to bring attention to the rights of workers.

Click here to learn more.

confucius quotation about doing a job you love and never working a day in your life

Closing it out.

Take a break, listen to some Buffett and celebrate, no matter what day of the week because Monday will always be in front of you.

I'll close it out with words from Jimmy Buffett and a link to a classic of his, Come Monday, released in 1974.

"Headin' up to San Francisco

For the Labor Day weekend show,

I've got my hush-puppies on,

I guess I never was meant for

Glitter rock and roll.

And honey I didn't know

That I'd be missin' you so.

Come Monday It'll be all right,

Come Monday I'll be holding you tight.

I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze

And I just want you back by my side."

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There is a huge practical disclaimer to the content on this blog, which is my way of sharing my excitement and basically journaling online.

1) I am not a historian nor an expert. I will let you know I’m relaying the information as I understand and interpret it. The employees of Colonial Williamsburg base their presentations, work, and responses on historical documents and mainly primary sources.

2) I will update for accuracy as history is constant learning. If you have a question about accuracy, please ask me! I will get the answer from the best source I can find.

3) Photo credit to me, Daphne Reznik, for all photos in this post, unless otherwise credited! All photos are personal photos taken in public access locations or with specific permission.