A History of Labor Day

Sherry — it’s hot as the blazes in Northern Virginia!

Growing up Labor Day was always the day before school started. Not as relaxing as one might hope — probably even worse for my parents who were both teachers. But it was also a time for picnics and lemonade and friends. Maybe even a game of volleyball or badminton in the backyard.

I found the history of Labor Day fascinating. I didn’t realized it became a national holiday in 1894 — thank you President Grover Cleveland! By the time it became a national holiday, 23 states were already celebrating. There’s even an argument as to who first suggested the holiday and interestingly their last names were McGuire and Maguire!

If you want to read more about the history this is an interesting article: https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

And in case you need something refreshing to drink here is a recipe for my mom’s famous (at least in our family) lemonade!

1 can frozen lemonade (64 oz)

1/2 small can frozen orange juice (6 oz)

3/4 cup sugar (less if you don’t want it too sweet)

3 or 4 lemonade cans of water

If you can’t find 6 oz orange juice just play around with the proportions. Stir it all together in a pitcher and chill.

Readers: Do you have a Labor Day tradition? What are you doing this year?

17 Thoughts

  1. Thanks for the history and the recipe! Heather Cox Richardson has an in-depth history and discussion of the holiday and its roots in her Letter to an American yesterday. I read it on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson – but it’s also on her substack page.

    Because I got home from San Diego (and a week mostly not writing) last night, I am eager to return to laboring on my book today, but there’s also laundry and the garden to attend to. Something grilled with corn on the cob and a garden tomato salad are on the menu for later.

  2. That sounds perfect for this week in CT – it’s going to be in the 90’s all week! My Labor Day tradition is celebrating my little cousin’s birthday.

  3. Yum, I remember that recipe! My parents made two versions, on with similar ingredients to yours for the kids and one with rum for the adults! We often had our last weekend at the Jersey Shore – they close the beaches after Labor Day there, and of course, it was back to school on Tuesday.

  4. No traditions here. My husband and I both worked most Labor Days. We are retired now, but just spend the day, as with most other days, just relaxing and doing whatever moves us at any given time.

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