The end of summer is finally approaching as is made evident by the last summer holiday, Labor day. Although many people “celebrate” Labor day by having one final summer barbecue or by going back to school shopping, the true meaning of this holiday has started to fade. Labor day is celebrated, every year, on the first Monday in September in the United States. This date was declared a holiday because of the marked progress the labor movement had started to make in the late 1880’s; it also symbolizes all the economic and social accomplishments made by the working class during that decade. Labor day was first celebrated in Union Square in New York City by the Central Union Labor in 1882 but it wasn’t made into a national holiday until 1894. Labor day does not have many traditions, but one custom that has survived the pass of time is the idea of not wearing white colored clothing after the Labor holiday. Why? That is a good question. This “tradition” has origins in the upper class culture of the United States during the latter part of the 19th century. During the summer in the eastern coast of the United States temperatures would, and still do, reach a sweltering 100 degrees fahrenheit! Many people would stay indoors, and those who could afford it would wear crisp white cotton clothing to keep them fresh outdoors. Therefore, wearing white during the summertime came to signify an elevated economic status, during the late 19th century. However, as time passed more and more people were able to afford to wear white during the summer months, the so-called “new monied” class because they had recently acquired their fortune rather than have inherited their wealth. This angered the already established upper class and so a new fashion “tradition” was a adopted by established upper class women, who, wanted to distinguish themselves from those who had earned their money recently. One of the “rules” the upper class women established was to wear white all throughout the summer, but desist of wearing anything of that color once Fall came into effect. Conveniently, they used Labor day as a marker for the end of the summer season, and they stopped wearing white after Labor day. This tradition has been adopted by society in general and some echos of this custom continue until today! We may not always remember who or what to celebrate on Labor day but we should always make time to commemorate those who have fought for Labor rights and social equality, and remember some silly fashion “traditions”.
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