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Labor Day History for Kids

2:00

For younger Americans, Labor Day signals the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Communities, families and friends often celebrate with parades, parties and cookouts.  Many children and young adults don’t know the significance of Labor Day and how it came to be. Here’s a brief history that can help explain this national holiday to youngsters.

Labor Day is also known as the “workingperson’s holiday.” That’s because it was created to celebrate and honor hard working Americans that helped build this great country.

So, how did Labor Day come to be? It began in the 19th century.

During the second “Industrial Revolution” America was experiencing an explosion of new and exciting ideas and inventions. In the late 1800s lots of people from rural areas and farms, as well immigrants from other countries, moved into the cities looking for work. This population explosion completely altered the landscape of the American city.

One of the most historical inventions was the creation of the assembly line – a way for workers to make more products quicker and cheaper.  Another major change was in transportation. The steam engine allowed trains to carry products and passengers faster and farther than ever before. Coal became the primary source of power to move the train engines, heat buildings and generate electricity. With an abundance of people looking for jobs, factory and mine owners had plenty of willing workers to choose from. While this may have been good for the owners, it was not so good for the workers.

During these times, many people labored very long hours, with little pay, in unsafe factories and mines to produce the products needed. Even children as young as six years old worked all day in the same factories and mines and made even less money than the adults. Their jobs were physically and mentally hard as well as dangerous.

As conditions worsened, the workers decided they needed better and safer places to work, higher wages and an age limit on who could be hired. They formed groups known as unions to help make this happen. Sometimes the union workers would hold marches and protests to complain about the bad conditions and low pay. It wasn’t long before unions grew in membership and spread to different trades (or jobs) around the country.

To accomplish the changes the unions wanted, members organized strikes, protests and rallies. Some of the factory, companies and mine owners fought against the unions by firing the members, bringing in new workers and hiring people that would attack the protesters. On several occasions, police officers were involved in breaking up the protests or removing union workers. Sometimes the protests and strikes became very violent and people lost their lives or were severely injured. It was a very difficult time for people standing up for the right to work in a safe place, for a reasonable amount of time and to be paid an honest wage.

On September 5, 1882, almost 10,000 workers marched to Union Square in New York City marking the first unofficial Labor Day parade in U.S history.

Every year after that, this celebration of workers became more popular in other parts of the United States. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to pass a law making Labor Day a holiday. The same year, other states such as Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also began passing laws recognizing Labor Day as a holiday.

Seven years later, in 1894, Congress passed an act that made Labor Day a national holiday. From that time till now, the first Monday of September is dedicated to celebrating the bravery and tenacity of American workers.

Happy Labor Day from the KidsDr!

 

Your Child

Teaching Kids About the Meaning of Memorial Day

2:00

For many kids, Memorial Day is just another three-day weekend celebrated with family bar-b-cues, a visit to the lake or pool, watching the latest action movie or any other of the numerous ways people spend the beginning of warm weather and a holiday. This year it falls on May 29th.

What is often lost in the celebrations is the meaning of Memorial Day and why it is an important reminder of sacrifice and service. Talking to your child about the history of Memorial Day and what it stands for can help them learn about the immeasurable cost of the freedoms they enjoy.

The preamble to Memorial Day was Decoration Day, established in 1868 – three years after the Civil War ended. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Local ceremonies were also held across the northern and southern parts of the United States, honoring union and confederate soldiers.  It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

In December 2000,  “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” was passed to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance asks all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

Memorial Day doesn’t have to be only a day of remembrance for our veterans, but also a day to think about and celebrate the lives of family and friends that have been lost.

Most children learn why we celebrate Christmas and other religious holidays. They learn early about what the July 4th holiday is all about. Many a child’s first play is the re-enactment of the pilgrims and Native American Indians gathering to share food on Thanksgiving. But Memorial Day is sometimes given a vague description or is scrambled in commercials promoting holiday savings.

Enjoy this 3-day holiday break from the stress of school and work but also take a little time to talk about the meaning of Memorial Day with your child. And perhaps, stop for a moment of silence at 3:00 pm in remembrance of those who have lost their lives because of their service to our country.

Story source: https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp

 

 

Your Child

A History Lesson: New Year’s Day

1:30

As families around the world gather together to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome the new calendar year, a look back on one of the most festive holidays, New Year's Day, is a fun history lesson to share.

Amazingly, celebrating the New Year goes back about 4,000 years!

New Year’s day hasn’t always been celebrated on the first day of January. The date has changed over the centuries as calendars have been adjusted.

The Babylonians began their new year near the end of March, a logical time to start a new year since winter was over, spring with its new life was beginning, and farmers started planting crops for the coming year.

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese New Year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

But, leave it to the Romans to make the mathematical corrections needed to find the appropriate date.

In 153 B.C., the Roman senate decreed the New Year to begin on January 1 to correct the earlier calendars, which had become out of synch with the sun.

While January 1st had no agricultural or season significance, it did have a civil one. On that date the newly elected Roman consuls would step into their positions. Interestingly, the month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, which can represent looking back at the old year and one looking forward to the new one.

Countries around the world bring in the New Year with unique symbols and traditions related to their ancestral history.

The custom of making resolutions on New Year’s Day is as old as the holiday itself. Even the Babylonians made resolutions, the most popular one being to return farm equipment!

The ancient Romans also made resolutions for the New Year; their most popular was to ask for forgiveness from their enemies- one we can still use in this modern age.

The Anglo-Saxons, who settled what is England, had a festival called Yule, which celebrated a fertile and peaceful season. The boar was a part of this celebration and people would make solemn "boar oaths" for the coming year.

Worldwide, New Year celebrations have become intertwined with religious beliefs, good luck, wishes, superstitions…. And traditional foods!

•       In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune.

•       Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a donut) symbolize “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called olie bollen are served.

•       The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.

•       The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain.

•       In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.

•       Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition.

•       In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors (and allowed to remain there.)

Beverages have also played a large role in celebrating the New Year.

Although the pop of a champagne cork signals the arrival of the New Year around the world, some countries have their own traditions.

•       Wassail, the Gaelic term for “good health” is served in some parts of England.

•       Spiced “hot pint” is the Scottish version of Wassail. Traditionally, the Scots drank to each other’s prosperity and also offered this warm drink to neighbors along with a small gift.

•       In Holland, toasts are made with hot, spiced wine.

Fireworks are also customary in many countries. Millions of people can now watch other nations bring in the New Year on television. Every year the firework displays grow larger and more astonishing; typically set to music.

The ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” still reverberates throughout many English-speaking countries.

The history of New Year’s Day reminds us that the past is the past, nothing we can do will change that, but a new beginning is available. We can always sweep the dust away and begin creating better tomorrows.

Happy New Year!

Story sources: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years

Victoria Doudera, http://www.almanac.com/content/new-year-traditions-around-world

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