Let’s Fall Back into School!

Hello September!

 

Hopefully, everybody is transitioning to the new school year. We have tried to sprinkle the first couple of weeks with a lot of fun activities so that there’s a little bit of summer still left for all of our students. We’ve had a bounce house on the premises, snow cones for all of our students, and we even got to wear our PJs this past Friday while we enjoyed some delicious pancakes. And to celebrate the beginning of the new month, we’ll be catching a movie matinee! So while we are hard at getting back into the swing of accelerated learning, we haven’t forgotten to let loose a little too.

Labor Day

September is a great month to focus on the benefits of hard work as the 5th of the month marks over 100 years of Labor Day observances. Always falling on the first Monday in September, Labor happy-labor-day-with-hand-holding-a-wrench_23-2147566699Day is dedicated to honoring the contributions of American workers. We observe the holiday in order to recognize the social and economic achievement ours laborers have made over the years and all the ways that they have contributed to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being” of our country.
Labor Day was first introduced in New York state legislature between 1885 and 1886, but the first Labor Day observance to become a law was passed by the Oregon state government in 1887. That year saw four more states (Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) adopt the legislation, and before 1890, three more states followed suit. The holiday proved a popular idea, and by 1894, 23 states now had holidays honoring American workers. On June 28th, 1894, Congress passed legislation declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
While we know the order in which the states adopted the holiday, there are some questions surrounding who first introduced the idea of Labor Day. Two similarly named champions of American labor have both been credited with first having the idea—Matthew Maguire, machinist, and Peter McGuire, carpenter. At the end of the 19th century, Peter was working as the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and was also a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Some records quote Peter as first suggesting we have a holiday that honors, in his words, those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
Recent research, however, suggests that Matthew Maguire might have been the progenitor of Labor Day and not Peter McGuire. Records show that he may have proposed it as far back as 1882 while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, the first state to consider legislating the observance. We know for certain that the Central Labor Union did adopt a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to make arrangements for a subsequent demonstration, even though we don’t know for certain who made the proposal.
Indeed, the first Labor Day, before any of the legislation was passed, was held on September 5th, 1882 in New York City under the guidance of the Central Labor Union. The day went so well that the CLU held another Labor Day celebration the following year on the same day, and in 1884, they decided to set aside the first Monday of September for the holiday. The organization urged similar groups to celebrate the “workingman’s holiday” on that date as well, and their campaign was successful. Labor organizations latched onto the idea, and in 1885 many of America’s largest industrial centers were celebrating Labor Day.
The first proposal for the holiday included a street parade that would exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” and would be followed by a festival for the “recreation” and “amusement” of workers and their families. Later, prominent men and women began to deliver speeches during the festivities, so that the holiday can better acknowledge the civic and economic significance of the holiday. Because of difficulties holding such large displays and massive parades in industrial centers, the manner with which we celebrate has had to change. Speeches are still given yearly, and the Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are often covered by major media outlets. What hasn’t changed is the spirit of the holiday. No matter how we’ve celebrated over the years, the holiday has always been held in order to honor the American worker.

First Day of Autumn

September also holds another important day, this one in observance of the natural world. On September 22nd, we’ll experience the Fall Equinox also known as the first day of fall.
Equinox denotes the day on which night and day are nearly exactly the same length all across hand-drawn-autumn-tree-background_23-2147520267the globe. On that day, the sun is out for 12 hours; the moon, likewise. The word equinox, in fact, comes from Latin and roughly translates to “equal night.” Of course, while that is the idea behind the equinox, night and day aren’t exactly equal in reality. During the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is close to being equal but never exactly.
There are many holidays and customs surrounding the Fall Equinox, just as there are with the Spring Equinox.
In Ancient Greece, the day is associated with the goddess Persephone. Fall is the season in which Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband Hades, the god of the underworld and a figure commonly associated with death. During this time, the Ancient Greeks held rituals for protection and security, and they would reflect upon the successes and failures of the past months.
Native Australians have, for quite some time, been proficient in reading the seasons and have had good understanding of Astronomy. The September Equinox, which in Australia actually occurs in their spring, have often played an important role in Aboriginal Australian culture. They celebrate the equinox as a time of rebirth and renewal. In order to track the changing of the seasons, they set up numerous stone arrangements, and though researchers can’t say for certain how these stones were used, it is widely believed that they were used to track star positioning.
China celebrates the Moon Festival during this time, celebrating the abundance of the summer harvests. One of the most important foods during this period is the appropriately named “mooncake” which contains lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit. As with the Ancient Greeks, the Fall equinox is associated with the afterlife in Japan. During the equinox, Japanese Buddhists observe Higan which lasts for a week. Higan translates to “the other shore,” and practicing Buddhists honor those spirits who have reached Nirvana. This week gives them a time to set aside to remember those who have passed by visiting, cleaning, and decorating their graves.
As always, the changing of the seasons gives just about everyone a chance to pause and reflect on the passing of time. No matter how we go about it, it’s good to use these astrological events as a means of reflecting on the world around us, whether that’s honoring the food we’ve produced, the work we’ve done, the people we’ve lost, or the good that’s still to come.

Closing

The school year is still young, Pinnacle Prep School, but we are laying the foundation for all that is still to come. Yes, we have had plenty of opportunities to have fun these past couple of weeks, but let’s use that energy to keep us motivated on having the best school year possible.

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