American Idle: A History of Leisure
T-G-I-F — four of the most beloved letters in the alphabet… but who’d be thankful if Saturday weren’t a day off? In fact, it wasn’t officially part of the American weekend until 1940 (although “St. Monday” was often reserved for nursing hangovers). In this episode: The history of time-off. When did leisure become something for the masses? What are the origins of the weekend? And why does relaxation involve so much…work? Cindy Aron reveals the beginnings of the modern American vacation, and Tom Lutz provides a cultural history of slacking.
Working at Play
Historian Cindy Aron discusses the origins of the modern American vacation. She explains why traveling to the beach didn’t used to be appealing, and why Americans have often preferred “self improvement” vacations to lazing around in a hammock.
Listen to more commentary from Cindy Aron on the history of vacations on NPR’s All Things Considered
Read a sample of Tom Lutz’s Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America
Hey BackStory fans–we’re not thrilled with this explanation of “blue laws.” Do you have a better one (even a guess)? Leave a comment!