In America, Labour Day is celebrated every year on the first Monday in September. It is a workers’ holiday similar to the way 1st May is in other parts of the world. It is also the last chance for a party before school starts again after the long holiday and a sign that summer is almost over. Nowadays people celebrate outdoors with picnics and sporting events. Labour Day didn’t exist in America as an official holiday until 1894 but picnics were a tradition long before then.

The sisters in Little Women are invited to go on a picnic by their neighbour’s grandson Laurie. Some English friends are visiting and he invites the girls to join him and the four English children. The sisters are excited about the picnic; spend a long time thinking about what they are going to wear and what the English children will be like. They spend the day playing croquet (a sort of mini-golf!), a game called Truth and Storytelling. There are insects in the food and a lot of competition between the Americans and the English. At the end of the day they all enjoy themselves in the same way that people enjoy picnics in the country nowadays.

Illustration by Ivan Canu, taken from Mystery in New Orleans, by Gina D. B. Clemen, Reading & Training, Step Two (CEFR B1.1).