Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Day - a national holiday for hot dogs?

Like a lot of things, Labor Day has morphed into something else. Personally, I'm ok with that - families getting a long weekend to spend together before the school days of autumn begin. But I think it is also nice to remember why the heck we get that day off in the first place.

It started, in 1894, as recognition of the American worker, brought to the forefront by the helatious working condition in American factories and the ensuing riots and demonstrations against them. Child labor, seven day work weeks - this is the stuff that Congress had in mind when it recognized and created Labor Day.

A holiday that was born from marches in the streets, boycotts and riots - riots so bad that President Cleveland had to call in troops - has lost much of its original meaning to most Americans. That's probably because we don't have seven day work weeks for most folks anymore and child labor laws in the US are enforced. I don't know how much the holiday itself had to do with these changes but national recognition of the situation back in day must have meant a great deal to those workers.

Ok, have you duly reflected? Have you given a thought to those folks who brought you the holiday? Ok, good. We've honored the past, now it's time to eat and celebrate.

Burgers, hot dogs, steaks, ribs - it's like a beef council commercial on Labor Day, right? That's ok but there is nothing wrong with mixing it up a little too. Grilled Szechwan Shrimp sounds pretty good, or how about Cuban style Pork Burger? Creamy coleslaw is a good bet for summer's farewell. Toss back a few mojitos and that's a par-tay.

Perhaps mixing mojitos with horseshoe tossing wouldn't be a good suggestion, so how about badmitton? I'd like to get a bocce ball set, partially because it's fun to say "bocce". Yard games haven't been the same since they pulled yard darts from the mix, due to the deadly spearing tips but hey, there are other games. Surely the recent Olympics must have given you some ideas. Pole vaulting, anyone? (Is that still in the games? I don't know.)

So this was a very long way of saying "Have a happy Labor Day, everyone." Gather ye rosebuds (or blackberries, or whatever other summer item you want to substitute) while ye may and enjoy the three days. Tip your glass to the American worker and flip your steak on the grill. Anyone for bocce ball?

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