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“The only way to enjoy anything in life is to earn it first.”
~Ginger Rogers

The simple truth?

I think Labor Day is one of the most under-appreciated holidays.

It’s not just that work is hard work—life is hard work too! Between the kids, the spouse, the job, the ambitions, the dreams. There’s a lot to think about and certainly a ton to do.

Sometimes you just need a break to soak it all in…

Even if it’s just a day.

To breathe.

To take a break.

To enjoy loved ones.


So I’m excited Labor Day is here!

Do you know how you’re going to celebrate?

Maybe you’ve planned a beautiful day to do absolutely nothing?

Or a small get together with friends and family?

Do You Know the History of Labor Day?

Let’s take a second to remember the roots of the Labor Day tradition.

To do that, we have to go back in time… all the way back to 1882 to be precise (it wasn’t an official federal holiday until 1894).

This was when the Central Labor Union decided they wanted to give workers a holiday from their labors.

And this decision was actually groundbreaking; let’s not forget that the work for Americans in the 1800s was no picnic.

Strenuous 12-hour days. 7 days a week.

Not to mention most workers earned the most meager of compensations which barely covered basic living costs.

And to top it all off, conditions were atrocious, it wasn’t uncommon to see children as young as 5 years old working in dangerous factories or the mines.

So the decision to have Labor Day—a day where everyone could actually stop working– was a Big Deal. People would gather in the streets to enjoy a street parade, festivals entertained laborers and their families and inspirational speeches were made by all.

But why September?

The logic was that workers needed a break between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. The first Monday of September was a perfect midpoint.

Labor Day—a Good Reminder

Although the era of parades and festivals is for the most part over (most of us just enjoy chilling out at home on Labor Day), it’s important to bear in mind the true significance of this day.

Labor Day represents the grit, determination and sheer pluck behind the American dream. It’s a reminder that where we are today means nothing without the courage and ambition of our ancestors.

And that great things are indeed created through hard work… But every now and then it’s great to take a break and savor all the gifts in our lives.

And speaking of savoring…Labor Day is also famous as a day for that ‘one last’ summer barbecue and eating with friends. So if you need a bit of inspiration for your Labor Day menu, check out this unbelievably delicious recipe for Lentil Almond Veggie Burgers. This recipe is so good—it will have you firing up the barbecue any chance you get.

Now that I think about it, maybe we should really change the saying to Work Hard, Play Hard, Eat Well.

Happy Labor Day festivities to all!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.