Labor Day: History and Fun Facts About Summer’s Last Holiday
Labor Day Weekend is widely recognized as the unofficial end of the summer and it’s usually associated with barbeques and parties. But, officially, Labor Day recognizes and pays tribute to the contributions of American workers.
Labor Day came about during the Industrial Revolution in America. American workers would be forced to work in dangerous conditions, 12-hours shifts, and seven days a week. As they organized and unions were formed, workers protested for decent pay and better working conditions.
On September 5, 1882, more than 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York, which marked the first Labor Day parade in the U.S. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894.
Even though the origins of Labor Day are known, it’s still unclear who exactly proposed the holiday. Some believe that Peter J McGuire, who was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to suggest the holiday. However, others believe that it was a machinist by the name of Matthew Maguire during the time he served as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
From the very beginning, it was established that Labor Day should be celebrated with street parades followed by entertainment for workers and their families. These events included fireworks, picnics, and more. Street parades are not as popular as they were back then but the tradition to celebrate continues.
States like New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio still hold annual parades to celebrate Labor Day. Washington, D.C. holds an annual concert every Sunday before Labor Day.
What are your plans for Labor Day?