Labour Day is celebrated on the the first Monday in September in the U.S.and Canada. This holiday is more than just the pseudo end to summer or the chance for another gala sale at the mall. Most Americans are off work on Monday, and that’s because more than 100 years ago, when labourers were forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, labour and trade union movements worked for better conditions for workers.
The intention of the holiday is to recognize the contributions that laborers make to the United States and Canada as a whole. Recognition of workers was inspired by the labor movement and Canada’s observation of labor festivals. The first U.S. federal observation of the holiday occurred in 1894 however, the first Labor Day observed in a state was in Oregon in 1887.
Parades and festivals are held on Labor Day to give people the opportunity to relax and enjoy the day before returning to work. In many towns and cities, fireworks signal the end of festivals that are held in honor of the holiday. More than 80 other countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1 as their holiday dedicated to labour.
God Almighty, architect of our universe,
who continues to work moment by moment
to sustain your glorious creation,
and who invites us to be co-creators with you,
We give you thanks.
For the work you give each of us to do,
And the enrichment we find
through working for your purposes,
and not for our own selfish desires,
We give you thanks and praise.
Bless those unsung heroes
Whose unseen and unrewarded labor eases our lives.
Bless those who work for the sake of people they will never see,
May we always be mindful of their hard work and sacrifice,
And be grateful for their diligence.
For their faithful service we give you thanks.
For those whose labor is forced, without rest, or freedom or dignity;
And those who are prevented by their disabilities whether of body or mind,
or by their society because of colour or creed from finding meaningful work.
We ask your merciful blessing.
For those who risk life and suffer hardship,
Especially in pandemics, fire, flood and disaster,
To accomplish their work.
For those who seek labour and who find none.
We ask your protection.
For those whose work is demeaning,
whose conditions are poor,
whose pay is unfair,
and for all who are coerced, endangered, enslaved,
exploited or abused:
We pray for justice.
We give thanks for all who labour,
And find joy in their work,
and pray that all may know the blessing
of your Sabbath gift of rest.
Holy One, you who labor for our life,
bless our work, that it may serve you
and the mending of the world.
This prayer is adapted from a prayer I found on the Christ Church Ontario site.