Why Labor Day? The significance of the day has faded like a old work shirt and today we are left with a day off work and school the first Monday in September.
The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the military and U.S. marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with the labor movement a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike (that sure doesn’t happen very often!)
Today, very few people in America use Labor Day to honor those who labor or the labor movement; the connection to labor is that most people don’t on this federal holiday.
Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer and a final fling before returning to school. But–as we’ve documented here–way too many schools are beginning in early August (a handful even in late July); for many families summer ended weeks ago.
This might be a good time to mention that as Christians we view work as a positive aspect of human life; as a genuine gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).
- work is a gift from God because it is a means of providing value or meaning or fulfillment to life.
- it prevents us from idleness, which can be spiritually deadly.
- it is a means of providing for the needs of life
- it is a means of serving mankind
On this faded holiday, then, I am grateful for labor–work for my hands–as a gift of God (even as I celebrate a day to refrain from daily labors).