An iced drink in front of deep green trees.Put away your seersucker, and move your ice cream suits to the back of the closet…Labor Day is upon us!

What is Labor Day, you ask? Think International Workers Day (May 1), except, subtly, not. There are reasons, which go to the heart of American political, social, and economic history in the late nineteenth century and can be gleaned here.

Originally a celebration of the American worker, the meaning of the holiday may have shifted a bit for those in the retail, services, and hospitality sectors, as today is the second busiest shopping day of the year. (The busiest is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, a two-day tradition in which we express thanks for our bounty and then go spend it.)

What else should you know about Labor Day?

  • The Saylor Foundation staff are off. Free education continues while we sleep in, and the Monday Morning Digest will arrive on a Tuesday
  • The school year traditionally started after Labor Day. When I was a kid, the holiday was a mournful one, trumpeting my imminent doom resumption of formal learning. Now, most school districts in the U.S. just make kids go back in August
  • Wearing too much white clothing is now officially tacky until spring (which doesn’t stop some of us)
  • Traditional start to fall/autumn (yeah, we know the equinox happens later)
  • Barbecue (last hurrah)
  • Football…not the soccer kind

Know more:
Introduction to United States History: Reconstruction to the Present – Unit 2: American Industrialization
Capitalism and Democracy in America – Unit 9: The Gilded Age

Image “Grapeade with Virginia flora” courtesy of the author.