Monday, 1 September 2014

Labor Day.

I'm very lucky, I'm being given an All American Labor Day barbecue today - it's very exiting. It doesn't mean anything to me so I've asked Robin G. May to write about Labor  Day and what it means to her;

Being American, the summer is full of certain traditions; vacations, day trips to the shore and or amusement parks,
fireworks, ice cream (and water ice) trucks, and baseball but most of all BBQs or Cookouts.

With the heat of the summer cooking your food on the grill is one of the coolest options. Not to mention all the fun that BBQs include; music, friends/family and of course drinking. People usually cookout for all the summer holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day), but many people also cookout to celebrate any occasion or just for the fun of it. I used to grill every Sunday.


Summer in the US has an unofficial beginning and ending; the last Monday in May or Memorial Day marks the beginning and the first Monday in September or Labor Day marks the end. Seasonal businesses pretty much operate by these dates.


                           (Me with my cousin Krista on Ventnor beach, NJ Labor Day 2010)

Labor Day became a Federal holiday in 1894 after a nationwide railroad strike that summer. It was formed to celebrate the contributions of working people to the nation. It originally started as a parade in New York City organised by the Central Labor Union and had been celebrated for several years prior to Labor Day becoming a federal holiday.

President Grover Cleveland who signed the bill into law selected the September date rather than the date of May 1st which is celebrated as International Worker’s Day in many countries because he feared associations with communist and anarchist movements.

However, like most things in the States, the true meaning of the holiday is irrelevant to most citizens. Labor Day is really just celebrated as a day off from work by most Americans, however it has some cultural significance as well. Until fairly recently it was a fashion faux pas to wear white accessories and even certain articles of clothing after Labor Day (you would begin wearing white at Easter). Most recently stores have taken advantage of the fact that most people are off from work and like to spend money so Labor Day weekend is marked by widespread sales.

But the biggest tradition of Labor Day (and every American holiday for that matter) is the food. We fire up our grills to cook hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, seafood and even steak. Of course you can also grill vegetables and fruit, grilled corn has become popular so have grilled pineapples and peaches. All this served alongside the summertime staples; potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans (and I’m not talking about Heinz – our baked beans have brown sugar, mustard and a bunch of other yummy ingredients; you have to experience it, baked beans are not for breakfast or toast!), deviled eggs, fruit salad, tossed salad, pasta salad and any other regional or family specialty dish. Being from Philadelphia we have water ice which is kind of like a granita or snowcone only much better. Now I’m getting hungry!

 Labor Day is pretty much the last time people have cookouts especially in areas of the country that experience a change in the season. September marks the arrival of fall bringing cooler temperatures and shorter days. That coupled with the return to school for students makes Labor Day the last celebration day of the summer. In a way it’s sad to see summer leave, although in big cities the four wheelers and motorcycles decrease, kids aren’t out in the streets all night and people go back to acting normally (people act crazy in the summertime – lots of fights). However the fall brings its own set of celebrations and traditions which are just as exciting and fun.

Robyn G. May.
(that's still a don't stop till you drop production)


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