Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor day: Not a day to labor. Or go in labor.

Today is Labor Day in the US. It's also probably the one U.S. holiday where we aren't consumed with buying gifts. But that's only because the card companies haven't figured out how to sell it to us. We're real suckers when it comes to that stuff, I guess.

No, the history of Labor Day is a communist one. It started back right after all those people working in factories and coal mines and other deadly jobs decided that they needed rights, because the whole dying-at-30-from-mysterious-disease thing wasn't that much fun. However, rather than ask for things like safe working conditions or a living wage of $.02 a day (of course, at that time, a penny could be used to pay rent on a 4-bedroom house, buy 2 cars or 3 horse-drawn carriages, purchase a fancy steak dinner for a family of four, 2 gallons of ice cream, a sailboat and still have enough change for a newspaper), they asked for a day off. Baby steps, I guess.

So that long and storied history basically boils down to one thing: Everyone gets a day off work. Traditionally, this time is used for barbeques, beach-going and enjoying the last days of sun. Less traditionally is it used to run around naked with a sign around your neck that says "Ornate and authentic renaissance costume" while singing old folk songs with an English accent. But sometimes.

There are other traditions associated with Labor Day. Okay, one- wearing white after labor day is a no-no. This is presumably because if you do it then a team of heavily-armed men in a black van will grab you and sit silently around you in a menacing manner, their black sunglasses betraying no hint of their personality or humanity. If you're lucky, they take you on a fabulous $5000 wardrobe makeover. If not, they'll pitch your lifeless body into a ditch on the side of the road. So you could take a chance to win fabulous prizes, but it's probably better to go with more of a beige.

Labor day also signals the end of summer. In fact, at midnight of the day after labor day, punishing cold rains and winds fall down across the nation to remind us of that fact. Children are left weeping and knashing their teeth (in the Biblical sense) as school looms close. For working people, it means an end to "Funny Hawaiian shirt" Friday and the beginning of "Conservative raincoat" weekdays. The world grows cold and grey and weary, and the bleak burning sun is often obscured by forbidding cloudbanks and provides no warmth or joy anyways. Flowers wilt and trees lose their leaves. People are left in woe and misery, where the greatest horror of all is the realization that the next six months will be naught but a dreary monotony of identical colorless days. But at least it's not hot.

Happy Labor day, USA. Happy day of working everyone else.


At 3:49 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Happy Day-off/Barbeque Day... nice to see these kind of celebrations are universal!


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