It rolls around every year. Many people see it as the end of summer and the transition to fall. It’s the time of year when school swings back into session and you and the kids have one last three-day weekend to enjoy before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Labor Day Weekend is more than just a relaxing time to crank out one more backyard barbecue. Its roots extend back to the beginnings of the organized labor movement and signify the importance of rest, health and family.
A Brief History of Labor Day
In the late 19th century, the labor movement was disrupting the 7-day workweek. The weekends that so many of us take for granted are the direct result of the protests and union organizing that was happening mostly in the northeastern factories. September 5, 1882 marks the date of the first Labor Day Parade in New York City. The then burgeoning unions chose this day as a “workingman’s holiday” because it fell halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The idea of a singular day off in late summer caught fire with the states quickly, but it wasn’t a nationally recognized holiday until 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed the bill passed by Congress, making Labor Day Weekend official law of the land.
Put Away The To Do List
Labor Day, and your right to celebrate was a hard-won battle fought well over a century ago by foundry workers and machinists who believed that everyone needed more time to chill. While it’s a given that the words “Labor Day Sale” are filling up your inbox, and you likely have a laundry list of errands to run, try to honor the day the way its founders intended by doing as little as possible. Unless your errands involve picking up takeout, putting your feet up, turning on the sprinkler and watching the kids run through it for one last summer hurrah.
Plan a Getaway
While it’s true that everyone and their neighbor takes to the road on Labor Day, get in on the fun and join them. Pick a locale that isn’t more than a four-hour drive from the house, pack up the car and go. When you’re researching mini-vacation options, focus on activities that will help you unwind. A lake house with a small boat launch may be just the thing to help everyone decompress. A quiet bed and breakfast tucked into the corner of a woodsy town makes for a no-frills, romantic retreat. Find a spot where the only form of transportation you’ll need is a bicycle or a golf cart and leave the worries of work and school behind you.
One Word: Staycation
For people who live in large metropolitan areas (looking at you, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), getting out of town for the long weekend can often mean facing long waits on the Interstate as you and a couple million other people flee the big city. Over Labor Day Weekend, there are likely to be great deals at local hotels around you, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get restaurant reservations when your city empties out. Make plans that include a leisurely afternoon at local a day spa, brunch at a spot you’ve always wanted to try, a picnic day with friends at the park, or a relaxing visit to a local museum. Load up on episodes of your favorite new show and cozy up for a day of binge watching. Play a round of golf at a course where you’d normally have long waits.
Call a Travel Agent
Despite the ubiquity of online reservations, travel agents are, indeed, still a viable resource for get-aways and vacations. Reach out to one and ask him or her to book a three or four-day trip to a fun spot like Miami, which has great off-season deals. If you’re on the West Coast, have an agent investigate deals in Lake Tahoe. Southeast residents, hire a pro to look into bargains in New Orleans, the Outer Banks, or the Florida Panhandle.
Organize a Potluck
What could be more relaxing than having everyone come to you? Fill up a couple of ice chests, make a big batch of water balloons and tell your friends and family exactly what they need to bring. If you make your plans correctly, those ice chests will basically fill themselves, and the only heavy lifting you’ll have to do is spooning your favorite potato salad onto your plate.
This year, when Labor Day arrives, put down your smart phone and pick up a chilled cocktail. Whether you’re walking barefoot on a beach or sinking your teeth into something delicious, celebrate the holiday’s historic significance and enjoy your well-deserved time off with the people you love.