What's it all about, Labour Day?

With Labour Day fast approaching, we thought it might be worth taking a trip down history lane to look into how this marvellous day off came about in the first place. So let’s take a step back….. way back…. and take a journey through space and time…..

  • Fasten your head strap

It’s 1840, you’re headed home after a 16 hour shift down at the local carpenters and you’re absolutely knackered. Covered head to toe in dust and grime, joints aching and your 25th birthday just around the corner. As you sit down at the dinner table with your 5 kids and equally knackered wife, your back hunches over into a crooked C shape. There’s just enough stew to go round, and the bread is rationed at a mouthful each. As the watered down broth touches your lips, you think to yourself…. there’s got to be more to life than this. 

24 - 16 = 8. Eight measly hours left to wind down, relax, spend time with your family, and indulge in some self care. That’s the minimum required amount to even sleep, (although you don’t know that yet, give it about 100 years.) No, you’ve had enough of this nonsense, it’s time to do something about it! Your mate Samuel Parnell has been talking about this eight hour workday and it’s starting to really make sense!

You push yourself up from the table hearing your back crack and pop as it adjusts itself from the letter C to I, grab your hat and coat, and hobble over to the nearest politicians house. 

  • A real life conversation in 1840....probably

Fast forward to 1890, you’re out on the streets celebrating as an energetic parade passes you by. Labour Day has closed businesses, at least partially for the day, and it’s your time to unwind! In the last 50 years, those eight hour work days have sure made a difference to your wellbeing, and now you’re even getting some extra time to celebrate this change! 

  • Parading through Labour Day like:

We whizz on by now to 1910, Labour Day is finally, officially, a public holiday. You wake at a leisurely hour, take a deep breath as you gaze out your window into the early October sun, and feel a blanket of relaxation and calm come over your being. 

A year later, the day is moved to the fourth Monday of October, a long weekend is what they are calling it. It seems only yesterday weekends were barely even a thing, and now you’ve got one that consists of three whole days?! Life is still intense, and tiring, but you’ve got more time to enjoy it now. You think to yourself, I wonder what it will be like in the future? Perhaps the way we work will be even more progressive…..

  • Taking a load off for Labour Day early 1900s style

And BAM we are back in the present! People work all different kinds of ways. From home, fly in, fly out, overnight, in space… it’s a whole new world. It certainly ain’t perfect, but if we think back to old mate down in the carpenters for 16 hours, it’s great to see how far we have come! And of course we are still enjoying Labour Day weekend!

So get out there New Zealand, enjoy yourself this Labour Day weekend and don’t forget to raise a cheers for the man who started it all 182 years ago - Samuel Parnell.

  • Here's to 182 years of Labour Day!