As we all get a nice three-day weekend in America for Labor Day, and as we all picnic, head to the beach or run to the stores to take advantage of the Labor Day sales, it’s a good idea to recall what labor day is really about. Spoiler alert: it’s not picnics.
Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, and is a true American holiday. It is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers: an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But it wasn’t a holiday that was awarded to the people of America out of thanks. Labor Day is actually the result of many unhappy workers striking in the late 1800’s, forcing the government to finally pay tribute to them.
The holiday has roots dating back to 1882, when the first city to celebrate the workers of America was New York. Unions organized parades and the Central Labor Union (CLU) executed the events. Two years later, Oregon instituted Labor Day as an actual holiday, passing that plan into legislations as of 1887. The first Monday in September was selected as the date of the holiday. Following a host of state celebrations, the US Congress voted in 1894 to make it a national holiday. President Grove Cleveland signed it into law. Today, Labor Day celebrations include parades and picnics, and, sadly, symbolizes an unofficial end of summer.