Pins and Needles Day might not have its origins in what you think! Though when we say ‘pins and needles’ today, you’ll think of that tingly feeling you get when your leg goes to sleep, the original Pins and Needles Day started up in 1937 to commemorate the opening of the pro-Labor musical play of the same name on Broadway. The production would eventually have a massive 1108 performance run, but its namesake day has grown to mean something else entirely.
History of Pins and Needles Day
The Broadway Play was produced by the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, and told the story of a group of workers holding down a job during the American Labor movement. It first graced the stage from 1937 to 1940, but did appear again in 1978 and appeared on London stages as recently as 2010. The cast of the original production was made up of sewing machine workers, cutters and basters who simply wanted to do something a little creative in their free time – the play would end up to be so successful that the cast members, who up until then were only able to rehearse at weekends – were able to quit their day jobs and take part in a full 8-weekly show performance schedule.
Pins and Needles was written by Harold Rome, a true Renaissance man who played piano in local dance bands while writing music, studying architecture, and pursuing a law degree at the prestigious Yale University. He brought all of those skills together when he produced Pins and Needles, and created a legend that would live on through the ages while pursuing a form of social justice little heard of its time.
How to Celebrate Pins and Needles Day
Perhaps Pins and Needles day would be a good opportunity to listen to the musical’s soundtrack, revisit some old musicals from the 1930s and 40s, or even read up on the history of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union – once one of the largest Labor unions in the USA. You may even want to find out if anyone in your history was part of that union during the time the play was performed. Labor Unions have a long and august history in the US and around the world, and worker’s rights have had to be fought for again and again in developing nations. Keeping aware of where Labor Justice rights are being fought for in the world is another good way to honor Pins And Needles Day.