Tag Archives: holiday

Labor Day: ReDux

Well, Happy Labor Day, oddlings. The sky in Brooklyn is an undulating palette of greys, blues, and whites. Perhaps we will have rain. Perhaps the day will just continue as a moody overcast day. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Bubo hates the word perhaps for reasons unknown. She also hates the word yarn. I think perhaps she’s overly cranky because her attempts to over-dye the bright orange paint on her feathers made them a deep violet color. It’s rather striking. Apparently, the heaviness of extra paint on her feathers is making complicated hunting moves difficult for her.

Luckily for Bubo, we live in Brooklyn, and there is a plethora of pigeons who land in our garden even though there is a fierce hunting machine living in said garden. Oh, pigeons. So shockingly ignorant and unperceptive.

So it is Labor Day here in the States. Silas is manning the barbeque grill (hand-tooled from a small tractor) and Mordecai has spent the weekend mixing pitchers of cocktails. Rumor has it some family members will be descending, though this family doesn’t operate on a standardized calendar. With the Autumnal Equinox right around the corner, they could be showing up in about two weeks. It’s so hard to tell and not a single family member has figured out their cell phones yet.

I can’t quibble – I’ve been unable to find my cell phone for four days. Troublesome thing, technology.

At any rate, I thought I would re-post a previous missive about Labor Day from 2011. So, here it is. Be safe, oddlings, and enjoy your Monday, whatever it portends.


It occurs to me that many people do not think about what these national holidays mean. They take the day to relax, revel in not being at work, and to grill meat and drink beer. Well, sure. These are wonderful things. But it’s important to know why we get this day to enjoy doing these things.

This is from the United States Department of Labor Page:

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

There is also an article about the true Rosie the Riveter that I trust you will find interesting.

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My original plan was to discuss Purim today. What a wonderful holiday; it is one that is celebrated by imbibing a little too much and giving to needy people. And eating hamantashen. Which, let us be rather honest here, are delicious.

Instead, though, I spent the day locked in the Solarium (yes, again) and resorted to using my dressing gown belt to belay down the west wall out one of the windows.

So, clearly, today’s word is Recidivism.

Recidivism  is a noun for the act of repeating undesirable behaviors even after experiencing the negative consequences of that behavior or after being treated or trained to not repeat that behavior. It is often used to discuss criminal behavior and the relapsing into a mode of criminal behavior. Recidivism has also been used to denote the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested.

Recidivism comes from the Latin recidīvus for recurring, which in turn is from re- for back plus cadō for I fall. There was no falling from the Solarium parapet – I’m rather an expert rock-climber, though I prefer to do it in boots rather than house slippers.

Perhaps my pre-coffee curiosity should have been squelched until I was post-coffee, but my shrieking violets were causing such an unholy ruckus and I was curious to see if they had eaten another midnight intruder (I find carnivorous plants are a delightful rodent repellent and much easier to live with than glue traps). Between the violets and dear Bubo, this house is one of the few Brooklyn abodes that is varmint free.

Had I really learned from my previous Solarium entrapment, I clearly would have made sure the door was properly bolted open and that my dressing gown contained the house keys. Instead, today was spent pondering recidivism and why Mordecai didn’t think to let me out, even after receiving a note I’d written and slipped to the Chimney Creep who can slip through the fireplaces of the house.

I suppose that’s a bit redundant, then. Double recidivism for me!


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Winter Solstice

It is my recommendation that you not tell your great horned owl that some people celebrate the Winter Solstice with a citrus bath.

You might find your bath interrupted by gallons of ice cold orange juice dumped over your head, all in the name of Dongzhi.

How are you celebrating the solstice?

Are you celebrating Christmas? Does your version of Saint Nicholas ride a sleigh or a Yule Goat?

Are you celebrating Hanukkah? Do you light your menorah with oil or candles?

Do you celebrate Goru with the Pays Dogon of Mali?

If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, then you are celebrating the Summer Solstice. Perhaps you are tying the sun at Machu Pichu?

Here on the back of the hill in deepest, darkest Brooklyn, we are enjoying mulled cider, leftover latkes, and Bubo’s fondness for Christmas carols.

We are also rubbing salve on a dragon who learned the hard way that even dragon scales are flammable when doused with olive oil for the “historically accurate” living menorah.

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There are wicked storms brewing all over the country, pets. New Mexico had a blizzard, freezing winds are slicing through Minnesota, and it has been raining across the East Coast. The dragons are organizing a “living menorah” for Hanukkah, though with the rain I am less concerned for my non-fire retardant house.

The slick weather has kept me indoors, making latkes with Mordecai and I hope everyone who travels to Grand Army Plaza for the giant menorah lighting will stay dry and warm.

All this weather-watching brings me to today’s word.

Pluviculture is a noun meaning the science of making rain. Originally from the Latin for rain, built on the model of agriculture.

During the Dust Bowl era of the American Great Depression, traveling showmen criss-crossed the country attempting to “make rain”.

Cloud seeding has been utilized since the 1940’s, and not just for ending droughts. The US military had a rainmaking operation called Operation Popeye intended to slow down military truck activity in Vietnam during the Vietnam War by increasing the rains over the country.

Nowadays, rainmaking has even taken on a metaphorical meaning, referring to the process of bringing new clients and new money into a company.

No need for pluviculture in Brooklyn these days; Mother Nature is taking care of the precipitation for us.

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