Labor Day is a national holiday held every year on the first Monday in September. For most of us, this holiday is observed as a day for shopping or simple leisure. For others, it is the last day of summer and a final opportunity to wear seersucker suits and white shoes. In general, Labor Day is one of those holidays we all enjoy but know nothing about. So – what exactly are we celebrating?
Labor Day was founded in the late 1800s for two basic reasons. It was a way to unify workers, and it was part of a movement to improve conditions for the workforce. At the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven-days a week. With time, unions began to organize to combat these terrible work environments and negotiate better hours and better wages.
Against this backdrop, Labor Day was introduced to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. In 1894, Labor Day became a federal holiday, and all workers enjoyed an additional day of rest and leisure.
As Jews, we have had a Labor Day of our own (Shabbat) that dates back to the Days of Creation. Our day of rest is a weekly occurrence. It affords us time to share the joys that come from our labor with family and community. So, with the coming of Labor Day this weekend, please rejoice in your extra day of rest! You deserve it!