Text: Ephesians 4:25-32
by Ken Sehested
This weekend we mark another Labor Day holiday, both here and in Canada (excepting Quebec). At least 80 other countries celebrate the first of May as a workers’ holiday. Jamaica has the most interesting Labor Day tradition. For most of its colonial history the country observed “Empire Day” on 24 May in honor of British Queen Victoria’s birthday and her emancipation of slaves in 1938. But in 1961 Empire Day was supplanted by "Labour Day" on 23 May, to commemorate the 1938 labor rebellion which led to independence. And the day’s focus is not on picnics, retail sales and car racing but on community service projects.
As with so many of our holidays, we have mostly forgotten the severe conflict which provides the historical context. In the latter decades of the 19th century industrialization was hitting its stride in the developing world. The technology of commerce was producing massive amounts of profit and a widening gaps between rich and poor. When recounting the history of the holiday, many Labor Day histories point to a massive march by sweatshop workers in New York City in 1882, demanding a shortening of the 12-14 hour workday. The workers’ chant was "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest. Eight hours for what we will." Read more ›