Labor Day

Yesterday was Labor Day in the United States. Labor Day is a federal (national) holiday that honors (shows respect to or celebrates) workers.

“Labor” is another word for work, especially hard, physical work.

How did Labor Day get started in the U.S.?

In 1882, members of the New York Central Labor Union thought it was a good idea to have a day celebrating workers. (A union is an organized group of workers that is formed to protect their rights and interests.)

Since there were four long months between the national holidays for Independence Day (July 4th) and Thanksgiving (last Thursday in November), the union decided to create a holiday in between.

The first Labor Day was on September 5, 1882. It was celebrated with a parade (people walking or marching together down a street, usually with music, with a lot of people watching).

New York’s Labor Day celebration caught on (became popular). Workers in other states began celebrating it.

Oregon was the first state to make it a legal holiday and many states followed (did the same). In 1894, the U.S. Congress (national lawmaking group) passed a law making Labor Day a national holiday.

Labor Day is now celebrated on the first Monday in September.

For many decades (groups of 10 years), workers saw Labor Day as an opportunity to raise awareness (get attention) for better working conditions and wages (pay for work).

Nowadays (Now), Labor Day is associated less with union activities and more with relaxing. Americans often spend the day having barbecues (cooking outdoors over a fire), family picnics (eating outdoors, usually sitting on the ground), or playing or watching sports, like the world’s greatest sport, baseball.

Celebrating Labor Day myself yesterday, I was reminded of two common idioms that include the word “labor.”

“Labor of Love”

A “labor of love” is something you do because you enjoy doing it, not because you can earn money from it or get some other benefit.

Maybe you are working on your old car to restore (return) it to its original condition. You do that not because you need a car to drive or you want to sell it, but because it is interesting and enjoyable work. You love it!

That’s how began. I started ESL Podcast in 2005 as a labor of love and it continues to give me a lot of joy talking to myself.

“Fruits of (one’s) Labor”

The “fruits of (one’s) labor” refers to the benefits or rewards you get as a result of your work.

If you start a business and work hard at it and it becomes successful, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, including the money and satisfaction that you’ve gained.

And for me, the fruits of my labor on is knowing that we’re helping people all around the world to learn English – and to sound just like me.


P.S. Check out (take a look at) these ESLPod Unlimited English lessons related to labor:

Labor Day:
Cultural English 49

Daily English 880 – Forming a Union

Workers’ Rights:
Daily English 252 – A Workers Strike

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