First Monday in September LABOR DAY; End of Summer

First Monday in September LABOR DAY; End of Summer

Labor Day, the iconic American holiday. Learn about the labor movement, the day’s traditions, and its impact on the United States

What’s Labor day? 

Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated in the United States on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. Originally, the day was intended to provide a time off for the “working man,” and it was promoted by the labor unions who organized the first celebrations. Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of summer, with many schools starting right after the holiday. It’s a popular weekend for travel, barbecues, and end-of-summer celebrations. The day may also include parades, fireworks, and various other public gatherings.

History of Labor day. 

  • Origins in the Labor Movement

In the late 19th century, the United States was undergoing rapid industrialization, creating a new category of jobs but also engendering appalling working conditions. Workers often toiled for up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, under unsafe conditions and without benefits like paid leave or health insurance. It was a time when worker rights were practically nonexistent, and child labor was widespread.

  • Emergence of Labor Unions

Against this backdrop, labor unions began to form, aiming to create solidarity among workers and to advocate for better working conditions, fair wages, and reasonable work hours. Workers organized strikes, boycotts, and other forms of protests, often risking their jobs and sometimes even their lives to protest against inhumane conditions.

  • First Labor Day Parade

One of the earliest Labor Day celebrations was held on September 5, 1882, in New York City. This event was organized by the Central Labor Union, an umbrella group for multiple labor unions in the city. Around 10,000 workers took an unpaid day off to march from City Hall to Union Square in Manhattan. This gathering was not only a protest but also a celebration, featuring music, picnics, and speeches, serving dual purposes of both agitation and celebration.

  • A National Holiday

Initially, Labor Day was not recognized as a public holiday. However, the idea of a “workingmen’s holiday” caught on in other industrial centers across the U.S., and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a public holiday in 1887. The movement gained further momentum when President Grover Cleveland signed the act making Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. This was partially an attempt to conciliate labor after the Pullman Strike, a widespread railroad strike that turned violent and led to 30 deaths.

  • Evolution Over Time

Over the years, the meaning of Labor Day has broadened. While its origins are rooted in honoring the labor movement and its achievements, it has come to symbolize the end of summer, a time for barbecues, parades, and sports events. However, at its core, it remains a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It serves as an annual tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the United States.

15 Fun facts of labor day

1. Origins in Union Activity: The first Labor Day celebration was organized by the Central Labor Union and involved approximately 10,000 workers marching through New York City on September 5, 1882.

First Monday in September LABOR DAY; End of Summer

2. Not a Federal Holiday Initially: Labor Day was celebrated by individual states before it became a federal holiday. Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday in 1887.

3. Pullman Strike Influence: President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894 during a period of labor unrest, specifically after the violent Pullman Strike. The move was an attempt to pacify labor organizations and gain their support.

pullman strike

4. Canadian Roots?: Some historians argue that the idea for Labor Day originated in Canada based on labor festivals occurring there in the 1870s. However, this theory is subject to debate.

5. End of Fashion Season: There’s an old adage that says one should not wear white after Labor Day. This likely comes from early 20th-century fashion etiquette where white was considered a summer color and was packed away after Labor Day. – Why can’t we wear white after labor day 


6. Busy Travel Weekend: Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year in the United States, as people try to squeeze in one last vacation before summer ends.


7. Retail Sales: The holiday has evolved into a massive retail sales weekend, often second only to Black Friday in terms of consumer spending.

sales e1693855343620

8. Unofficial End of Summer: Though the autumnal equinox is weeks away, Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of summer. Many schools start right after the holiday, and fall activities begin to take center stage.

9. Jerry Lewis Telethon: From 1966 to 2014, the Muscular Dystrophy Association held its annual telethon over Labor Day weekend. Hosted by Jerry Lewis, it raised millions for charity.

jerry lewis

10. Hot Dogs and BBQ: Labor Day sees a surge in barbecues and is one of the biggest holidays for grilling. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume an estimated 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

hot dogs

11. Sports Transition: The holiday is pivotal for sports, marking the end of the regular baseball season and the beginning of the football season.

12. Name Confusion: Some people mistake Labor Day for Memorial Day, given that both are Monday holidays and have historical significance. However, Memorial Day is intended to honor fallen military personnel, whereas Labor Day honors the American worker.

13. First Labor Day Bill: The first Labor Day bill was introduced by Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota. However, it took several attempts before the holiday was federally recognized.


14. Union Membership: Labor Day was originally strongly associated with labor unions. Today, while union membership has declined, the day still serves as an opportunity for political campaigning and labor rights activism.

15. Political Significance: The day remains a crucial date on the political calendar, often seen as kicking off the final stretch of campaign seasons, particularly in election years.

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