According to the Department of Labor website, first Labor Day celebration was held on September 5, 1882 in NYC to celebrate the "creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker." Over the years other municipalities followed suit and had Labor Day celebrations. It was finally in 1894 that Congress passed an act declaring the first Monday of September as a legal holiday.
It seems to me that Labor Day is generally seen as the unofficial end of summer. The focus is usually on picnics, family gatherings, and one final hurrah before the "real work" of fall begins. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries each municipality would have a Labor Day parade usually followed by a picnic complete with games and sports for the children and adults. I don't know of any towns in our area that do that now.
Summer isn't officially over until the autumnal equinox (September 22) but as the day after, it does seem as if the climate has already changed and we are already into fall. All those who were out of town during various summer vacations have returned: The adults are noted by the sights and sounds of honking (and gestures) of speeding cars. The college students are noted by the sights and sounds of large packs of students walking to and from class (and parties). The neighborhood children are noted by the sights and sounds of games (and arguments) playing on the street. The silent sanctuary that we enjoyed during the summer has been shattered.
And that is okay.
The summer is a wonderful opportunity for impromptu gatherings, spontaneous trips and a laid back attitude. I think it is important to treat the summer time as if one is on holiday- to have a relaxed schedule. But as with too much of even a good thing, it gets old. By the time Labor Day rolls around, I am ready for a change. I am looking forward to a schedule and routine.
Fall is my favorite time of year. Coming on the heels of summer and all the restoration that summer (hopefully) has brought, it seems as if it is the best time for being productive, creative and open to new possibilities. I wonder if that is why the original celebrations were chosen in September? As much as the labor unions wanted to celebrate the workers, it was a good rallying cry to gear up the workers for the last quarter of the year.
Each fall, I regroup and rewrite my goals for the year. It is an appropriate time to reflect on what I thought might be accomplished and to realistically revise what I can. Usually I look at that list and what I haven't completed. In honor of the original intent of labor day, I think this year I will reflect on what has been accomplished so far this year. I don't know about you, but I can be pretty hard on myself- in all that I do and say professionally and personally. I can give others lots of slack, grace and compassion but for myself- forget it.
In celebrating the American worker, the creators of Labor Day were also giving the workers a full day to rest from their labors. I think one of our modern problems is that we never let our minds rest. We feel that we have to continually keep moving, keep innovating, keep working harder in order to keep up. Of course, no one really knows the true definition of "keeping up". In honor of the original intent of labor day, I am also going to (try) truly rest from my labors or at least for one day.
What about you? As you move into the fall season, have you had a chance to rest from your labors? Have you celebrated your accomplishments? Whether that is through your job, your home, your social interactions, or your family? Just showing up and being present might be accomplishment enough. Or knowing when no response was the best response in an emotionally charged "discussion".
This week take some time for Labor Day. Celebrate all that you have done so far in 2016. And then, give yourself permission to rest from your labors.