Labor Day seems like it isn’t as important anymore. I’ve only noticed a few mentions about it so far this year even though it’s only a couple of weeks away. It occurred to me that some people may not know what it is if they’re just entering the workforce. Here are the basics.
What is Labor Day and Where does it take place?
Labor Day is an annual American holiday that celebrates and recognizes the hard work and achievements of workers all across the United States. In other countries, it is called international workers’ day and happens at a different time.
When does it happen?
In the United States Labor Day is always on the first Monday in September. It comes with a three-day weekend that coincides with summer ending and fall starting. Many people also consider it the time when school goes back in, though most U.S. schools start back in August. Others look forward to it because it precedes the start of the yearly football season. Labor Day 2022 is on Monday, September 5th.
In other countries, it is called May Day or International Workers’ Day and it happens on May 1st.
Why is it a holiday?
Labor Day was a victory for activists who wanted workers to be recognized and appreciated for all their hard labor through the year. The labor movement was pushing to reduce most work shifts from 12 or 10 hours down to the 8 that most Americans now do. Various events and protests happened across the country from 1850-1886. Then the Haymarket Affair came, forcing employers and the government to realize the labor movement wasn’t going away. It resulted in 8-hour shifts being adopted as the norm for most businesses and government jobs. It still took almost another decade of states celebrating Labor Day individually for the government to make it an official federal holiday.
Who started Labor Day
There are conflicting reports on that one. Some documents claim it was the Secretary of new York’s’ Central Labor Union, Matthew Maguire. Others claim it was Peter J. McGuire, the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. The similarity of their last names may have caused this confusion.
Who celebrates it?
Labor Day is celebrated by American families and employees throughout the country. Other nations also celebrate their workers, though it is called by a different name. Labor Day recognizes the achievements and hard work of the people who keep their country running and the families who miss them while they’re gone.
How is it celebrated?
Most American cities host parades and firework shows, drawing in tens of thousands for a good time where street vendors sell treats, and the city still makes money even though their workers are off. American families get together for picnics and barbeques where they spend time with the workers they don’t get to see much because they’re always working. Others take the day to rest and relax with their favorite activity.
The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day was Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, in New York City. It wasn’t an official holiday then. It took 12 more years of other states recognizing it and giving their employees that day off for the government to officially declare it a national holiday. That happened June 28th, 1894.
Oregon was the first state to make it an official holiday in 1887. Four more states (New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) followed the same year. Other states added it over the next 7 years, making the government understand how much the people wanted it.
I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend. Maybe spend it with a good book or a classic film, like the ones below or in the sidebar.
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