Labor Day 2016: What you need to know

Posted at 4:34 PM, Sep 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-01 16:34:00-04

It’s a day when we honor the American worker and we tip our hat goodbye to summer.

From parades and festivals to barbecues and football, here’s what you should know for Labor Day 2016:

The official end of summer, really?

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September every year, marking the end of summer, unofficially. (The last day of summer is actually September 21.) It also means school is starting in many districts in the US, particularly in the Northeast.

If you have kids who are heading back to school, watch or listen for any signs of anxiety. Returning to class after a long break can be a stressful time.

Even though the summer may be winding down, don’t be depressed. There’s plenty more time in 2016 to celebrate. The arrival of Labor Day means we’re only halfway through the 10 annual federal holidays in the US. Next up is Columbus Day on October 10.

“Everybody’s workin’ for the [long] weekend”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 159 million people in the US civilian labor force as of July 2016. This translates to 66.8% participation in the workforce. Almost six million people are also looking for work, as the unemployment rate is 4.9%. Eleven percent belonged to a union in 2015.

It began with a parade

The idea of a special day to celebrate the American worker was first suggested by members of the New York labor movement in the early 1880s, but scholars don’t agree on whose idea it actually was.

Peter McGuire of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union thought Labor Day should be “celebrated by a street parade which would publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.” Some sources give Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists the credit for the idea to give workers a break.

The first Labor Day celebration was held in New York in 1882 with a picnic and a parade.

Oregon was the first state to set aside an official holiday, in 1887, and in 1894, President Grover Cleveland and Congress made it a legal federal holiday for everyone. Outside the US, especially in Europe, the first of May, also known as May Day, is the day the labor force is honored.

How to travel

Planning a getaway? You’re not alone. Air travel is expected to increase by 4% over the Labor Day weekend this year, compared to air travel over the same period in 2015, according to the trade organization Airlines for America. If you decide to drive, stay focused and keep your eyes on the road. A National Safety Council report says this could be “the deadliest Labor Day since 2008.” Low gas prices and an improving economy are cited as reasons for the current trend of increased motor vehicle fatalities.

Where to go

This year the National Park Service celebrates turning 100. So, if you love the great outdoors or are a heritage buff, here are 100 spots to explore.

If parades and festivals are your thing, note that the annual New York City Labor Day Parade doesn’t take place until September 10. Other festivals taking place on Labor Day weekend, however, include the Louisiana Seafood Festival (September 2-4), the Prince Edward Island Fall Flavours Festival (September 2-26), and Seattle’s Bumbershoot annual arts and music festival (September 2-4).

Love comics, costumes and people watching? Head down to Dragon Con in Atlanta (September 2-5). Founded in 1987, it’s the largest fantasy and sci-fi convention in the world.

Also, several public gardens around the country are hosting blockbuster exhibitions featuring Dale Chihuly, Frida Kahlo, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi and more.

What to do

Labor Day is known for big sales and end-of-season deals on summer clothes and swimwear, furniture, appliances and model year close-outs of cars and trucks. It’s a good time to pick up a new laptop, get a new patio set or score a big-screen TV.

Rather see a movie? This weekend’s not known for big box-office hauls. The New York Post describes Labor Day weekend as “where Hollywood movies go to die.” Some notable wide releases on Friday include “The Light Between Oceans,”a period drama starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, and sci-fi thriller “Morgan” with Kate Mara.

Whether you decide to go out or stay in, there is no escaping politics. Catch up on movies or miniseries about the early lives of some our US presidents.

CNN’s two-hour bio documentaries about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also premiere on Monday at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

The annual Jerry Lewis telethons to fight muscular dystrophy may no longer be around (Lewis stepped down as host in 2011, and the Labor Day weekend tradition ended completely in 2014), but there are plenty of other options. Sit back and tune in to what’s streaming in September on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now and Acorn.

While the 2016 college football season began on Friday, August 26, the first full weekend of games precedes Labor Day, including three marquee matchups on Saturday of AP Top 25 teams, including Alabama (#1) vs. USC (#20), Oklahoma (#3) vs. Houston (#15) and Georgia (#18) vs. North Carolina (#22). There’s a game on Sunday, Notre Dame (#10) vs. Texas, and on Monday, Florida State (#4) vs. Ole Miss (#11).

What to eat

The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of grilling out. If you are entertaining family and friends for the holiday weekend, try raising the flavor in your meats by using a rub and a good BBQ sauce. For the best burgers or steaks, avoid handling the meat too much.

Not a carnivore? September is a good time to try some fruits and veggies that might not already be on your menu. Figs, persimmons, pomegranates and quince are now in season.

What to wear

Remember the old commandment that thou shall not wear white after Labor Day? This is an outdated fashion rule that’s meant to be broken. Wear something that looks great on you, whether it’s white or any other color. Get inspired by the catwalk at New York Fashion Week to see the trends and hues of fall 2016.

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