Labor Day: A Summer Tradition with Deeper Roots

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In Buffalo, the weather is still hot and humid but summer is coming to an end. All of the telltale signs are here. Some leaves have started to change color and school has started in most districts. If the big yellow busses weren’t enough of a sign – the big finale of the season, Labor Day, has arrived. Like most people, we here at Austin Air will happily be observing it with a day of rest and some last bits of summer fun as always. The last rite of summer is a tradition that is so engrained in our lives that it’s hard to imagine that it’s only a little over one-hundred years old. In fact, the history of public holidays isn’t very long at all.

In the past, only holidays of religious significance were celebrated with time off of work and even then, not everyone was granted a break. For example, Boxing Day (December 26th) was the day for people who couldn’t celebrate Christmas, such as domestic servants, to observe the holiday and relax. It wasn’t common to have non-working days in the calendar until the 1800s when industrial work became common. An 1871 act of parliament in Britain established a list of public holidays which officially closed banks and government offices. In the US, these days are often called bank holidays because the banks are closed. Meanwhile, in Britain, most of these days are named as such like, “Early May Bank Holiday” or “Summer Bank Holiday”. They aren’t the most creative of titles but many have their roots in traditional celebrations related to the harvest or other traditions.

Public holidays in the US weren’t established with one single act but, instead, they came about individually over the years. To start, Labor Day was celebrated by singular towns and cities. The first known observance of the day was a parade to honor the workingman in New York City on September 5, 1882 – a Tuesday – which was followed by picnics and other family fun. It was then proposed to become a law in New York State. The first state to make it a holiday was Oregon in 1887 followed by twenty-two more in the next several years. Eventually, the national government agreed that it was important to honor American laborers and their contribution to society. President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making the first Monday of September an official day of respect and relaxation in 1894.

As the years have passed and Labor Day has established itself as a milestone in the calendar, it has become more common to associate the day with a farewell to summer instead of a serious homage to hard work. We at Austin Air love summer fun as much as anyone, but we also consider this weekend a time to reflect upon the effort, energy, and exertion of our employees (and everyone working everywhere) – and to give many many thanks. Without the hard work and dedication of our employees, our products wouldn’t be the high quality air purifiers that our customers have come to trust and love.  Hope everyone has a great long weekend! And please – be safe!

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