Happy Monday! It’s Labor Day here in the States.
Did you know the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union?
Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
According to the Department of Labor, before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. During 1887, four more states–Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York–passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
Many celebrate Labor Day with parades, picnics, and parties. These festivities are very similar to those outlined by the first proposal for a holiday, which suggested that the day should be observed with a street parade to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day.
So while Labor Day these days is often the subject of discussion and jokes, and many working class folks have to work it now, it’s important to remember the origin of the holiday was to celebrate the working class and their contributions to the advancement of society.