Labor Day Facts and History


Most people see Labor Day as just a three-day weekend to relax or go on a vacation getaway before their children return to school. However, Labor Day is an important holiday, once established by the labor movement, that occurs every year at the very beginning of September. This year it will fall on September 2nd, and most businesses are usually closed in order to honor all the American workers and their accomplishments.

When was Labor Day established?

This year will mark 125 years of celebrating and recognizing Labor Day as a national holiday. The first state to pass the Labor Day legislation was Oregon in 1887. Four other states followed behind passing the legislation as well, which were Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. By the year 1890, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had passed the same legislation, and by the year 1894, 23 out of the 50 states had granted Labor Day as a holiday. Therefore, in June of that same year, Labor Day was declared a federal holiday by Congress that will officially occur every first Monday in the month of September.

When was the first celebration of Labor Day?

In September of 1882, New York City was the first to technically celebrate Labor Day before legislation was even passed. Over 10,000 individuals decided to not go into work and march for their work rights, which made history as the first Labor Day parade in the United States. The reason they decided to march is because they were tired of working 12-hour days, six or seven days every week. The American workers struggled during these times to barely make a living, and young children were even working in some states. The working conditions were not safe or suitable for anyone.

Labor unions began developing across the country and became important advocates for better working environments. These unions started planning strikes and marches to make people aware of the unsuitable working conditions and demanded businesses to change the working hours and increase wages. Therefore, the labor union formed the New York City march from City Hall to Union Square demanding a better-quality work environment. The protest that day led to the idea that there should be one day held every year in September for workers to have a day off to celebrate, and the labor union began celebrating the holiday every year afterwards.

How is Labor Day celebrated?

In the first proposal of Labor Day, it stated how the celebration of the holiday should take place. It mentioned that it should include a street parade to show the community and public the successes and accomplishments of all the labor organizations. In addition, a festival should follow the parade to provide entertainment for the American workers and their families afterwards. Speeches from important and respected individuals also became a big part of the Labor Day celebrations; these speeches made the public aware of the contributions and goals that had been accomplished in the workforce.

The celebrations of Labor Day have changed drastically. Not many people attend the parades, and it has mainly become about vacations and getting students ready to begin their school year the next day after. However, there are still parades held across the United States for people to attend and celebrate being an American worker if they wish to do so.

What is the difference between May Day and Labor Day?

Other countries take part in celebrating a holiday called “May Day,” which is declared International Workers’ Day. The idea behind both May Day and Labor Day is about the same, but there are a few differences. May Day is on May 1st every year and is a holiday celebrating the fights and accomplishments of all working people across the world. Labor Day focuses on American workers and the American labor movement and is celebrated at the beginning of September. May 1st is not a recognized holiday in the United States, and it is not a day that workers get to have off work.

Are all businesses closed on Labor Day?

Unfortunately, not all businesses are closed on Labor Day. Since celebrations of this holiday have changed, it has become a big shopping weekend. Labor Day weekend is known to have wonderful deals on items, especially children’s clothing and supplies for returning back to school. Therefore, most retail companies and businesses will be operating longer hours on Labor Day, which is supposed to be a holiday devoted to celebrating and recognizing American workers. Additionally, the police force, firefighters, doctors, and nurses are expected to work almost every holiday to help society remain safe and healthy, even on federal days off.


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