Why do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day?

Reflections my Past Labor Days

When I reflect on the meaning of Labor Day from my childhood years, I think: end of summer; back to school tomorrow; our family get-together’s that always included outdoor picnics; softball, badminton, and other games; watermelon, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, ice cream, and cake. And, in my earlier years when my grandparents were living, it was the last day at the beach playing in the sand and riding the waves, plus all the other activities and goodies. My maternal grandmother, “Mam-ma” got a big kick out of playing the “one-armed bandits” at Eli’s Store in Chesapeake Beach–it’s now a Mexican food restaurant and adjacent parking.  In fact, we live only a few miles away and regularly frequent the restaurant and walk the boardwalk. But, as a child, all I knew about labor day was everyone in our family had a day off from their regular jobs and routines where we could celebrate just spending time together and having fun.

So today, when none of our family regularly gathers for holidays the way we used to, I turned to YouTube to seek out the original and bigger meaning for this occasion. Popping up first through Google was “TED” (Technology, Entertainment, Design)–a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, whose slogan is: “Ideas Worth Spreading.” And there I found TED-Ed’s Original educational video series which captures and amplifies the voices of the world’s greatest educators and animators. “Why do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day?” It was right at the top of the search results. Its author was Kenneth C. Davis, an American popular historian, whose second book Don’t Know Much About® History spent 35 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list in 1990 and launched the Don’t Know Much About®… series.

And without me telling you the whole story of Labor Day, I will say that the Big Apple in 1882 was the first state to celebrate it. And, as many other holidays that we celebrate, Labor Day did not come about easily and without strife.  But, there’s so much more to this story below…And, it just takes about four minutes to view.  I hope you enjoy.



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