Labor Day and What We Have Forgotten

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Labor Day is a United States holiday held the first Monday every September. Unlike most U.S. holidays, it is a peculiar celebration without standard rituals, except for shopping and barbecuing. For most people it simply marks the last weekend of summer and the start of the school year.  The founders in the late 1800s envisioned something very different from what the day has become today. The original intent was to unify union workers and to reduce work time.

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Why Was Labor Day Started?

Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.  In the early 1800's, labor workers were putting in 70-hour weeks on average. Near the end of the 1800's, the hours of work had dropped, but the average labor worker was still sweating it out in a factory for 60 hours a week.  These long working hours caused many unions to focus on a shorter eight-hour workday. They also intended on getting workers more days off, such as the Labor Day holiday, and reducing the workweek to just six days.  Yes, you read that right, manufacturing laborers used to work 7 days a week!  Clearly, progress was made as the average person working as a laborer now usually works only a bit over 40-hours a week and most work 5-day weeks instead of seven.

Most politicians AND business owners actually favored giving workers more time off.  Why?  Well, when workers had no time off, they weren't out spending their money on things like travel, dining out, etc.  It was important for businesses to achieve an increase in consumer spending as more products and services became available with ever-growing technology.  Hence, the working class was able to become the consuming class.

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Have We Lost the Spirit of Labor Day?

Today Labor Day is no longer about trade unions marching down the street with banners.  The original holiday was meant to handle a problem of long working hours and no time off. Although the battle over these issues would seem to have been won long ago, this issue is starting to come back with a vengeance, not for manufacturing workers but for highly skilled white-collar workers, many of whom are constantly connected to work.

If you work all the time and never really take a vacation, start a new ritual that honors the original spirit of Labor Day. Give yourself the day off. Don’t go into work. Shut off your phone, computer and other electronic devices connecting you to your daily grind. Then go to a barbecue, like the original participants did over a century ago, and celebrate having at least one day off from work during the year!

In the general spirit of entrepreneurship, we hope you will consider treating yourself to some awesome and affordable items with Wicked Wonders too!  After all, the founders believed you deserved time off and time to be consumers of new goods and services and we have you COVERED!  Happy Labor Day!  (This year it falls on Monday, September 3, 2018, so get your festive Bling now).

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