Research says modern Americans work more days each year than medieval peasants. No one is saying that serfs had it great. But they did get frequent holidays, plus at least eight weeks off in the winter, according to historians.
Their workdays were less rigid, too, with time for naps and long lunches. So apparently they had the whole work-life balance thing figured out, centuries before we thought about it.
One thing that medieval peasants didn't have was Labor Day. It's a holiday that should be more than a three-day weekend at the end of summer. It's also an opportunity to think about the value of work and the importance of labor to the economy, businesses and families.
Not that there's anything wrong with long holiday weekends.
Thinking about work makes me think about my family's relationship with work because work was always an important part of my family life.
My dad worked for the same company for nearly 40 years. For most of that time, he almost never talked about work at home. But everyone in my family knew all the men—yes, they were all men—that he worked with. We saw them and their families at weekend bowling leagues, company picnics and weddings. His coworkers were like a stable family.