Labor Day: A Cookie of History on this Blessed Day of ReprieveIf you've woken well past the normal buzzes and bells of Monday morning alarms or if you are finding yourself in a lounging/reclining position at some point today, you are enjoying the fruits of much labor exerted over 131 years ago to secure this day of rest and tribute. Aptly timed, because let's face it, we are holding on to summer days with a pretty firm grip (probably polished nails too), a reprieve on the first Monday of September is just what the doctor (or Congress) ordered. Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, and contested founder of this day, once emphasized its purpose "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." As you sip your Arnold Palmer or glass of Belvenie, here is a snickerdoodle cookie of history on the laborless beginnings of Labor Day.
Disputed between Peter J. McGuire and Matthew Maguire, there is some debate as to the founder of this day. (It is believed that Samuel Gompers (pictured center) of the American Federation of Labor challenged Maguire's radical politics and so credited McGuire with the founding of the holiday). However, in 1882, the Central Labor Union organized a picnic and street parade in New York City to "demonstrate the espirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations." Encouraging other industrial and urban centers to do the same, municipal ordinances and then state legislation in Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and 23 other states began the legislative snowball creating a convincing lobby to roll the day out nationwide. Finally, in 1894, Congress passed the act that we now know as Labor Day, marking the first Monday of September an official holiday.
Thank you laborers and unions for carving out a day to have picnics and parades and thereby, honor those who work hard. Someone once said "activity does not always mean productivity." There's a time for hustle and a time for play. Enjoy today - may it be chock full of gratitude, woosah, and time well spent.