A Short History of Labor Day

America has a long and sometimes rocky relationship with its workers.  From the labor union accomplishments of mandating a 40-hour work week and restricting child labor, to the bloody Boston Police Riots of 1919, we may not always see eye-to-eye with our labor representatives, but they are still undoubtedly an integral part of American history.  It should be no surprise, then, that America’s Labor Day holiday has become a deeply-symbolic part of Americana.

Celebrated on the first Monday of each September, Labor Day was first made a federal holiday in June of 1894, under less-than-festive conditions.  Two months earlier in Cleveland, Ohio, mounting unemployment rates and rampant local poverty led to the May Day Riots, a series of violent clashes between the public and city officials, over frustrations of the unemployed at the government’s ineffectual handling of economic conditions.  Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday to, in part, symbolically demonstrate their support of the average American worker.

As time has gone on, Labor Day has come to mainly represent the end of the summer season, with a glut of parades, festivals and outdoor barbecues.  The tradition of Labor Day parades owes its existence, though, to the original Labor Day in the 1880’s, when, holiday founders proposed, a street parade would show the public the power and unity of labor and trade organizations.  Today’s Labor Day parades are much more festive and informal in nature, but several American cities still feature labor unions prominently in their Labor Day parades.

Ironically, Labor Day in America has come to symbolize, for many, the opposite of work.  College Football usually begins right around Labor Day, and the National Football League usually plays the first game of the regular season in the week after Labor Day; American school children, meanwhile, typically see the Labor Day weekend as one last free hurrah before the school year begins again in earnest.

And while regular political demonstrations have typically been kept low-key on Labor Day, recent years have seen a return to the holiday’s more politically-charged roots.  Would-be politicians running for office use the day and its significance to draw attention either to their support or criticism of labor unions; and a new group of political protestors plan on throwing “tea parties” this Labor Day—protests to be held around the country, in opposition to perceived excesses in government overspending.

Labor Day in America is much like Labor Day itself: borne of a common and unified cause, but growing, over many years, into an occasion that symbolizes something different for everyone involved.  So whether it’s football and hamburgers, or parades and speeches, get out there and enjoy it! If all else fails borwse our wonderful free animated ecards

How to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Researchers agree that back to school spending is likely to see a dip this year. BIGresearch forecasts that back-to-school spending in 2009 will be 7.7 percent lower than last year’s. The results of a survey by BrandKeys suggest that back-to-school sales will decline 10 percent this year.

If you’re a parent budgeting for your kids’ back to school shopping, you don’t need a survey to tell you this. You’re probably already out there, looking for ways to save on your kids’ school supplies while still getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Here are some steps you can follow to stay on budget and some tips on smart and savvy back to school shopping –

  1. Identify what you really need to buy. Go over the school supplies list and then check off the items that your kids already have, which can be recycled, reused or handed down to a younger sibling. Notebooks with blank pages, sheets of paper, pencils, markers and other stationery, geometry tools, backpacks and several other items fall in this category. You don’t have to cut back on essentials, but if you can reuse or recycle something, you should.
  2. Make a list of shops, bargains and websites with the best deals. Start your research a few weeks ahead, shop around. Every store places certain items on clearance and marks up the prices on other items. With a little looking around, you’ll be able to snag the best deals on school supplies. Stores like Staples, for example, have crayons, pencils, pencil boxes and other items on clearance for pennies. Dollar shops always have some good deals on certain items. Don’t leave out the discount stores either. Or, consider shopping along with a couple of friends at a warehouse store, so you can buy items you all need in bulk and split the cost.
  3. Visit Garage Sales. You may find some great bargains on student desks, chairs, book shelves, stationery, lamps and other items that you may not find elsewhere. If the items are in re-usable condition, there’s no reason to overlook this avenue.
  4. Shop smart online. Visit sites like deals2buy.com and milo.com. Milo is a local shopping search engine that lets you compare prices and brands in local stores in your area. Deals2buy is updated with the best deals, mainly on electronics, computers and gadgets (and which school kid doesn’t need those?!). Most of them are limited-time deals, so if you really think something is a steal, go for it.
  5. Use coupons. Clip or print coupons wherever you find them. Save them in an organized and easily accessible manner and be sure to use them when you shop. Maybe you won’t use all of them, but sometimes, you never know which ones you’ll need.
  6. Take advantage of post back-to-school season deals. The real deals happen a few weeks after school starts. You’ll find incredible bargains on many school supplies. This is the best time to stock up on supplies for the next school year. 

With these tips, back to school shopping doesn’t necessarily have to be a budget breaker. With a little extra effort and thought, you could kick the school year off with great savings. You could, of course, start with Free Printable Cards that wish kids a great new school year, without costing you a dime.

Share some of your favorite tips on back to school savings.

Free Animated Ecards

It has been a year since we started our blog. We have come a long way since then. However, our first post is still relevant…

First post below:

Everyone expects to get cards on their birthday or on a special holiday, and free ecards have become the quick and easy way to let someone know how much you care. So much so, in fact, that sending free animated ecards during a holiday has become commonplace.

If you want to truly surprise someone and show them how much you care about them, you may want to send them animated cards when they least expect it – on a day that is not a holiday! Animated ecards such as the Thanks for Making Me Smile card are a great way to put a genuine smile on someone’s face.

The best part about sending animated cards isn’t that they are free and only take a short time to send, it is in knowing that when the receiver gets their ecard, they will know that someone cared enough about them to take a few minutes out of their day to send it.

Editor’s Notes:

In this day and age when I receive so much spam and twitter. When I know someone has taken the time to choose an e-card specifically for me. It goes a long way in my book. How about you? Do let us know.

Free Cards to Beat Back to School Blues

Nobody’s ever explained it to me.

How does summer pass by so quickly? And why?

It’s always been the case. Even when I was in school, it seemed as if the 10 months of the school year dragged on for ever, but the 2 months we were off – just went by in a flash.

When I was a kid, we lived far away from my grandparents, cousins and my extended family. Since we lived in a different country, we got the chance to visit them only once a year. Those summers were the best! It was like being in a whole other universe with no school, homework or teachers, no reminders of regular school routine. Spending your vacation in a completely different setting can be so refreshing.

Back to School Motivators – New School Supplies

Anyway, it would all pass far sooner than I liked. The only thing that motivated me to head back home and get ready for another school year was the thought that I would be getting new school supplies, crisp new notebooks, shiny new pencils and pens, a brand new bag, maybe, new uniforms and shoes. Those were the little things that made the transition back to school somewhat easier. Of course, back then, I didn’t have to worry about shelling out my hard-earned money for any of those things.

The Back to School Price Tag

Today, it’s a different story. As a parent, I see the back to school routine in a slightly different light. Yes, it means kids go to a new class to learn more than they did the previous year and that parents can breathe a sigh of relief as they wave to their kids getting on the school bus after spending two boisterous months at home. It means the house is quiet again, at least for a few hours everyday and that stay-at-home or work-at-home parents get some time to themselves once again. But all of this comes at a cost, of course. My daughter hasn’t started school yet, but I’ve heard that back to school purchases can cost anywhere between $200 and $400 per child!! Whoa! No wonder then, why I see that some parents are as concerned about schools reopening as their kids.

It’s always a good idea to spend money wisely and save where you can, regardless of the state of the economy. But the current crisis makes prudent spending a necessity.

In the next post, I’ll share some back to school money saving tips that you can use to cut your costs while still getting your kids everything they need.

Meanwhile, check out our free printable Back to School cards. They’re great for cheering up kids who’re not too happy about going back to school. And if you’re trying to find back to school deals, how’s a $0 greeting card for a start?

Don’t forget to share your tips on back to school saving in the comments.

What do July 4th and August 15th have in common?

August 15 Cards to Email Click here

One represents the birth of what is considered the world’s oldest democracy. The other represents the birth of the world’s largest democracy.

On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, thus paving the way for 13 American colonies to becoming a sovereign nation.

On August 15th, 1947, India won independence after over 200 years under British rule – a victory that came at a very high price, including the partition of the country.

That’s about where the similarity ends.

Although these dates may both represent the Independence Days of the respective countries, when you look under the surface, the contrasts could not be any starker.

I won’t go into the details here as that would be beyond the scope of this post. But here’s a fact that reflects the vast difference.

The American War of Independence lasted 8 years. India’s Freedom Struggle lasted for about 100 years.

Of course, you can’t really compare the two situations. And citizens of one country can’t possibly understand how those of the other really feel.

But when you think about a country that was known as a flourishing land where ancient civilizations and cultures thrived, you can’t really picture it being enslaved by a modern country.

And yet history does not lie.

So, when I think about the fact that this Saturday, August 15, 2009 will mark India’s 63rd

Independence Day, I have mixed feelings. As someone born and raised in India, sure – pride, joy and nostalgia are in the mix. But so is a kind of sadness. I can’t help but admire the courage and patriotism of the countless, nameless, faceless people who made the supreme sacrifice to win a freedom they would never live to enjoy, the hardships and humiliation they encountered, the unquestioning faith they placed in the nation’s leaders and in themselves.

So, yes, while I will celebrate India’s Independence Day, probably by sending free ecards to my friends and family, listening to patriotic songs performed by Indian artistes and probably singing a few with my family, I will also take a moment to remember the sacrifice of those who made this day possible.

All over India, in schools, colleges and other institutions, Independence Day celebrations usually include a flag hoisting ceremony early in the day followed by a patriotic speech and cultural performances.

When you compare it with the fanfare associated with the Fourth of July celebrations, Indian Independence Day is a relatively somber affair. Perhaps that’s where the difference lies.

One marks the Declaration of Independence of a great country. The other marks the end of a long and hard struggle of an ancient land that should never have been colonized in the first place.

How to Create Your Own Printable Cards

If you have never sent a Printable Card before, we have good news for you. If you have been using the Printable Cards section on gotfreecards to wish your friends and family on special occasions, then we have even better news!

Introducing the new, improved, easier-to-use and better-to-view, personalized Printable Cards with photo.

If you want to send a Printable Card, here’s what you do.

1. From the several Printable Card themes available for the occasion of your choice, click on the one you like best.

2. Cover

Do you see the two tabs Cover and Inside? First, choose the Cover tab. (It is selected by default)

3. Image

· If you’re happy with the image there, leave it as it is. If not, you can rotate it, resize it, re-position it or delete it and replace it with an image from your computer.

· To resize the image – drag its corners. To rotate it – drag the curved, green arrow on the top right corner. To re-position the image, drag it to the position you want. To delete the image, click on the X on the top left.

· To upload a picture from your own computer, click on the Add Photo link on the right. Select the image you wish to upload. When the image is uploaded, it will appear in place of the default image. You can resize, re-position or rotate this image in the same way.

· Once you are happy with the image on the Cover, you could add text.

4. Adding Text

· Click on the Add Text link on the right. It opens up a Text Box.

· Type in your message. You can resize, re-position and rotate the text box just like the image.

· Choose the font, text size, alignment and text style from the options on the right. Add as many text boxes as you want and arrange them any way you like. So, there’s literally no limit to how creative you can get with your Printable Card.

5. Inside

· If you’re happy with the image and text on the Cover, move on to the Inside, by clicking on the Inside tab. If not, go back and make necessary changes.

· Upload an image from your computer, resize or rotate it, add text and customize it just as you did for the cover.

6. Printing Your Card

· You have two options. Choose Print on One Side, if you prefer a smaller sized card that is folded over twice. (The way you would fold a handkerchief) This is a compact printable card.

· If you prefer a larger card that has a single fold across its center, choose Print Front and Back. (This opens up like a magazine or newspaper.)

Happy Independence Day India – Aug 15th

If you have roots in India, then Aug 15 holds special meaning for you.

You may not have been around 62 years ago when India won her independence. But, surely, you have enjoyed the liberties of being born and raised in or having ties with an independent India.

As we approach independence day on August 15th, Indians are proud of the progress they’ve made in various fields. The past couple of years provided some great moments of pride to Indians across the globe – India’s launch of Chandrayan, her first Mission to the Moon, Abhinav Bindra winning the long-awaited and elusive Olympic gold and A.R Rahman winning the coveted Academy Award to name a few. But it’s not just the famous names and faces that make India proud. Everyday, there are millions of nameless, faceless people in various walks of life and professions ranging from army personnel to doctors, teachers, social workers, engineers, entertainers, scientists, religious leaders, homemakers and countless others hard at work to do their bit for their country, society and fellow citizens.  August 15 is in fact a day to celebrate their spirits and hard work.

And yet, even after six decades, India is still not free from other self-imposed shackles that continue to plague her existence and stunt her growth. It is these negatives that come to light, far more frequently than the positives – maybe because they’re more abundant or maybe because that is human nature. Complaining is easier than appreciating.

India is still the land of the most ancient cultures and rich heritage. It is still where many religions of the world have their roots. India is still the birthplace of some of the oldest civilizations, languages, sciences and arts. This may not be immediately obvious to someone visiting the country today, or even to Indians living in India or abroad, as we may have strayed quite far from our origins in our quest for modernization. But, the core, no doubt, remains intact- buried beneath several superfluous layers perhaps- but intact nonetheless.

It is that truth, the core, the soul of India that we celebrate on Independence Day.

So, Indians – no matter where you are, be sure to spare a few moments of thought and prayer celebrating your great country and her heritage and wishing her a glorious future.

And regardless of your plans, spare a quick couple of minutes to send free Indian Independence Day ecards to your friends and family.