One of my regular clients is based in Taiwan, and so has different holidays than we do in the United States. Last week, I remembered to write to tell my contact there that I'd be off today for Labor Day. She asked about the holiday, so I looked it up -- for most of my life, it's been a day off of school or work, and that's it.
It turns out that Labor Day was started in the late nineteenth century by the unions. It was supposed to be a day off for working class folk, who in those days often had to work six days a week, twelve hours a day (or more!). Even children were subjected to this. Labor Day was started as a reprieve for these workers.
The irony is that Labor Day is now primarily a professional holiday. The only people I know who observe it are professionals -- business people and teachers, to name a few. (Students get Labor Day off because their teachers are professionals, though to them it's simple because it's a end-of-summer holiday.) Although factory workers may still get this holiday, the biggest group of low-income workers -- retail workers -- still have to work on Labor Day.
The masterminds behind the holiday are probably rolling in their graves right now.
My Labor Day wasn't the day off I had intended, either. I've been working to finish up my Big Project, and although I thought I would be done by the end of last week, I ended up working off and on throughout my holiday weekend. I should be able to finish tomorrow, after which I am taking the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday off, but I'm still disappointed about the weekend.
Wish me luck finishing my project in the morning. The sooner I get it done, the sooner I get to start my own holiday!