Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today Is Labor Day

Very Little Known Facts wishes all of you a “Happy” Labor Day today!

(And a Happy Labour Day to our friends in England, Happy Canada Day to our readers in the Great White North.)

What Is Labor Day?

Although Labor Day (formerly called Memorial Day) is observed by government offices, schools, and businesses alike on the first Monday in September, the actual holiday is September 2nd. It was changed from the original day (the last Thursday in August) in 1946 as a way to benefit war orphans.

Labor Day began as a pagan holiday to celebrate the end of August, which was famously referred to by the poet George Eliot as:

August, the cruelest month
Aye, inferno! the dregs of summer
Devour the new-born foal, the calf of spring;
The center cannot hold.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
And into the valley of death
Rode the six hundred.

Later it was Teddy J. Roosevelt, America’s only Socialist president, who dedicated the holiday to the proletariat. Ironically, it wasn’t until the Nixon administration that federal workers got Labor Day off as a holiday—and this was only after Congress marked Labor Day as the official “beginning of the Holiday Shopping Season.”

Other interesting Labor Day facts:

  • It is a myth that Labor Day refers to the large number of babies born nine months after New Year’s Day, although it is true that going into labor is a lot of work for a pregnant woman--and it can be hard on the dad too!

  • Spooky Fun: Nobody knows the origin of the Labor Day tradition whereupon widows and widowers bedeck their mailboxes with black bunting and lace. Some say this macabre ritual is still practiced in remote areas of Appalachia.

  • Americans consume more hamburgers on Labor than any other day of the year aside from the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Spring Break, and Christmas Eve put together.

  • Don’t Let the Upbeat Tone Fool You: The lyrics to “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend,” the smash #1 hit from Danish band Loverboy, actually refer to a man who has to go into work on Labor Day weekend.

  • Labor Day is the birthday of playwright Arthur Miller (62), professional athlete Ed “Too-Tall” Jones (47) and celebrity impersonator Rich Little (deceased).

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