Jonathan Zimmerman: Nation Could Use a Vacation
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory" (Yale University Press). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In August 1937, Good Housekeeping ran an article titled "Why Is a Vacation?" The short answer was to obtain rest, the magazine advised, "and the best way to do that is to work hard at something that is enjoyable."
And that tells you all you need to know about the Great American Vacation. More than 70 Augusts later, we're still working hard to relax. And, more often than not, we're falling down on the job.
The problem dates back to our Puritan forebears, who drew a sharp distinction between recreation (good) and amusement (bad). "A recreation is something which recruits, restores, and prepares the man for better service," a New England newspaper explained in 1851, two centuries after the Puritans landed on these shores. Amusement, by contrast, was "pleasure for pleasure's sake." That was taboo....
That's why the average American worker gets nine days of paid vacation per year, while Europeans get two or three times that. It's even more telling that almost half of Americans don't take all the vacation days they are entitled to.
So keep working, America. Or, if you can, go on vacation. At the end of the day - or of the summer - there may not be that much of a difference.
comments powered by Disqus
- Here's a look at history of 'religious freedom' laws
- ‘Hamilton’ Puts Politics Onstage and Politicians in Attendance
- Earth Tectonic Plate Simulation Reveals Our Planet Has Changed A Lot In 200 Million Years
- For G.O.P., Support for Israel Becomes New Litmus Test
- Yale’s Beinecke Library Buys Vast Collection of Lincoln Photos
- History's Grandin Wins Bancroft Prize for "The Empire of Necessity"
- Nobel prize-winning scientist writes a history of science
- Ken Burns tackles history of cancer
- If historians have their way, Americans will soon learn how important religion has been in US history
- Role-playing history game gets students jazzed